7 Things Your Therapist Wants You to Know
Therapy sessions can be a bit of a mystery, whether you are just starting to explore the idea of seeking counseling or you have been with your therapist for years. Will it be awkward? Will they judge me? What if I don’t like them? Here are just a few things your therapist wants you to know…
1. You don’t disappoint us if you’re not making progress. We have training and experience to be able to detach from your progress in a healthy way and we don’t internalize that as our own success or failure. We are here to help you along every part of the journey, but the path is yours to walk alone. We understand that there are times when it seems like it’s two steps forward and one step back. We trust the process! You don’t have tell us you have completed homework if you haven’t and definitely don’t minimize symptoms because you think it would somehow disappoint us to know that progress may be going slowly or that we may need to try a different approach.
2. Just talking about the problems won’t help. Just like talking about getting a degree, losing weight, or making new friends doesn’t make those things magically come to fruition. We have to better understand the process that happens around the problems (what you did, thought or felt while the problem was happening) so that we can learn to change or reframe a part of the process to lead to long term relief from symptoms. Anxiety is a call to action, and nothing beats doing. Living your most meaningful and fulfilling life is a hands-on event! We will expect you to show up and participate!
3. You don’t have to worry about us. In the same vein as #1, we are trained to help you hold your big emotions and life events without becoming overwhelmed ourselves. We have our own self-care rituals and support systems just like we have likely asked you to create, and it’s ok if you cry, yell, cuss, or sit silently. We can sit with you through all of those emotions with no apologies needed.
4. We aren’t going to Google your name or seek you out on social media. As part of our code of ethics, we cannot befriend you on social media. We would also rather hear about your life from you, without the added “noise” of social media. You have the opportunity to present just what you are willing and want to work on. You have the right to your privacy!
5. If we see you outside of our office, we will ignore you unless you approach us. Communities are usually pretty small when you get down to it, and there is a good possibility that we will see each other at the grocery store, church, our kids school events, or other activities around town. When this happens, your therapist will ignore you until you make first contact, and even then, will not reveal our relationship. You can call us your therapist/mentor/coach/ friend, or whatever creative title you come up with. You don’t have to worry that we will disclose anything you don’t want to disclose.
6. We don’t judge you. Most of us went into this field because we excel in the empathy department. We don’t judge you, because we don’t know exactly what it’s like to walk in your shoes; we can only empathize with your experience and work toward understanding. We may be experts on human behavior or development, but we are not experts on you, and we rely on you to help us understand and facilitate your own personal growth. We’re all just doing the best we can until we learn a better or more efficient way or until another opportunity is created.
7. Every therapist and client are not meant for each other. There are several specialties we each pursue within the field and not every therapist is going to be able to meet the needs of every client. It’s important to seek out a therapist who specializes in, or is comfortable with, treating the symptoms and issues that are most bothersome for you. Make sure to listen to their recommendations if they tell you they do not have the skills or experience that you need to reach your full potential. You may also find that you just don’t have a good “fit” with a therapist you found online or that a friend recommended. Feeling comfortable and trusting the philosophy and knowledge of your therapist is the most important part of the therapeutic relationship. We understand if it just doesn’t work out. We won’t take it personally, we
I hope this blog has helped you to feel a little more confident in what to expect from a therapeutic relationship. If you have been hesitant to reach out to a therapist, but you think you might be ready to explore more, I would love to hear from you. Email me firstname.lastname@example.org