Sure you could benefit from sitting down with a professional and talking about your life. Who wouldn’t? But you haven’t had some life altering trauma or a serious mood disorder, for example. So you’re not feeling an urgent need for therapy. It’s just that you know you might gain some clarity if you finally admitted to yourself that therapy is a good idea. Yes, even for “normal” you.
When you finally work up your courage—and it does take real courage—to go to a therapist, what should you expect?
It won’t work unless your heart is in it. Maybe you’ve made the intellectual decision to try therapy, but your emotions aren’t quite there yet. You know your life would be better if you made some changes, but change is hard. Change is unknown. The devil you know is familiar and comfortable. So when you make the decision to go to therapy, be fully committed.
You need to find a therapist who is right for you. It’s good to get recommendations from your friends, but understand that a perfect fit for you BFF may not be a perfect fit for you. You have to find a therapist who you know you can trust, who you feel safe with, and this takes a certain amount of trial and error. Of course you’ll do research online, you’ll explore websites and read blogs. But chemistry is critical. If your instincts tell you the therapist you’ve tried isn’t right, then try another. And another, until you find someone with whom you can be completely comfortable.
You may feel worse before you feel better. This is where the real courage comes in. You may have to examine parts of your life that are pretty ugly. Things you have been hiding away, perhaps for decades, will come to light. You may not want to see them at first, let alone examine them. But once you get things out in the open you can see what issues you have. And then you can begin to see how to get better.
Help your therapist help you. Understand that your therapist is not a mind reader. You need to be ready to share intimate details with her—things you might not even tell your best friend. And unlike your best friend, your therapist is trained to listen without prejudice. She is an active listener who will guide you in identifying and analyzing things that block you from living the life you want. She’s not a magician, either. She cannot “fix” you. She can only help you fix yourself.
Set realistic goals and be patient. It takes time to make meaningful changes. When old behaviors have been entrenched for your entire life, you need patience and perseverance. And the support of a psychotherapist who can help you feel empowered to deal with your issues, to build resiliency to the difficult times you will face, and to find well-being in your life.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: http://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contacts.