Things I Wish I Knew About Therapy

I perched, sweaty palms locked together on the emerald sofa wondering what on earth I was going to say. I could feel my breathing quicken and my chest tighten. One singular thought kept circulating.

‘I don’t deserve this person’s help.’

The ‘person’ in question was my therapist, and we had just met. I had been considering therapy for around a year before I finally made that call. Doubts had kept creeping in stopping me.

What if they laugh at me? What if my problems aren’t ‘big’ enough to warrant their time? What if they can’t solve my problems?

I wish I knew then what I know now. Because I would have made that call a lot sooner.

Looking back, I don’t think anyone had ever truly listened to my innermost thoughts, let alone understood them, and I hadn’t realised the absence of this until I had it in therapy. To have that hour each week to be listened to and empathised with was so healing. All those thoughts and feelings, all that pain that had been circulating for so long finally had an outlet. It was liberating.

So, what about my earlier questions?

What if they laugh at me? So, that never happened, as I now know therapists are trained to offer a non-judgmental approach, but there were times when we did laugh together, because YES there is room for humour in therapy as well as everything else.

What if my problems aren’t big enough to warrant their time? The truth is, any therapist worth their salt will tell you that if something feels consuming or challenging to you, then it’s worth exploring in therapy. As therapists our role is to empathise with you and your situation and not make assumptions or comparisons.

What if they can’t solve my problems? So, this one was a big shock for me. I expected to be told exactly how to navigate the challenges I was facing, but therapy just doesn’t work that way. My therapist had a way of challenging me and my thoughts in a non-judgmental and empathic way to allow me to find the answers I needed for myself, which helped me learn to trust in my decisions. Because I was supported to find those answers for myself, it led to me eventually feeling that I could navigate my problems without that support.

Some final thoughts before starting therapy….

Do your research! There are many different types of therapy out there, all suited to different people and life issues. Read up and find out which ones you think could work for you.

Pick a therapist that you feel comfortable with. Many therapists offer a getting to know you session or call, so you can see if you will work well together. Don’t be afraid to speak up if something doesn’t feel right about the relationship for you.

Finally…therapy is a commitment. Consider if you are ready to explore your issues and if you have the time to commit to regular sessions.

Contributed by Laura Jane Pardner