“I don’t know what’s going to happen and I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do”If you have never been in therapy before, then it is normal for you to feel unsure about what will happen and to be uncomfortable. Remember that you can take some time with me to focus on the reasons that you are uneasy before getting into the reason you came for therapy. This will help you feel more comfortable. Another way to help this situation is to tell me what you expect will happen in therapy. We can discuss how my way of working differs from your ideas. If you feel as though you are being heard, you may start to feel more comfortable. The more open and honest you are the more you will gain from being in therapy. Feel free to ask questions and to make suggestions that might make you feel more comfortable.
“I’m worried that I will have to tell the therapist things about myself that I am uncomfortable feeling or admitting to a stranger”Your discomfort is very understandable. Therapy is a place where embarrassing and painful emotions can be worked through. One of the goals of therapy is to help you to understand how difficult emotions may be adversely affecting you and as a result experience less conflict and pain in your life. You can always delay some discussions (in order to not feel too overwhelmed) until you are somewhat comfortable and have developed sufficient trust before you begin expressing difficult emotions.
“I might feel foolish”The chances are that you may feel foolish, awkward, and even scared when you begin therapy. You probably have never opened up to a stranger and expressed your deepest feelings, desires, and fears. It is a unique experience to have someone listen to you attentively for an extended period. At the same time, as a result of taking that risk you will learn more about yourself and will eventually become more comfortable with revealing your feelings. When you have achieved that degree of trust, you will have unlocked your potential for growth and self-discovery.
“The therapist, my friends, family and people at work will think I’m mentally unstable as I’m coming to therapy. Only mad people need psychotherapy.”Therapy is becoming more accepted by more and more people. If you are concerned about stigma you do not need to tell anyone if this makes you feel more comfortable. The fact is not only mentally ill people need therapy, everyone at some time can use a guide to help give them a clearer perspective on their life. Its mad not to take advantage of the self-empowerment that therapy can give you.
“I may find out that I am mentally ill”This is a very common concern because many people are afraid that deep down inside they are somehow different from everyone else and “nobody thinks the way I do”. In fact, individuals who have lost touch with reality are not usually concerned about whether or not they are crazy. You may have developed some very creative ways of dealing with difficult situations. However, that does not mean you are crazy.
“Therapy is too expensive”Therapy may seem expensive at first, but what has more value to you that your mental well-being? What is more important than getting the most out of life? Therapy can provide you with immeasurable rewards in well being, greater energy, and joy for living, which will be more than adequate compensation for personal expenditure.
“The therapist will not be able to understand me.”You have to remember that a therapist is trained to understand and empathise with emotions. You may have not felt understood trying to explain yourself to family or friends in the past, but it is likely that when you are speaking to a trained professional, that you will be better understood. If this point is a sticking block for you this may indicate that you have some fears or blocks associated with dealing with your feelings. If this is a concern we can address this.
“What if the therapist isn’t any good? What if he can’t help me?”Not every therapist is a perfect match with each person that comes for assistance. I offer the initial consultation for free at the end of which we will decide whether we want to work together. Sometimes a therapist will not be the right match for you and sometimes blaming the therapist for your lack of progress or challenging their effectiveness is a way a client can avoid facing up to his own problems or discomfort which is why it is very important to talk about this matter.
“I don’t deserve to have this time devoted to me. The therapist should be helping someone who “really needs it”.The fact that you are enquiring into counselling and psychotherapy indicates that a part of your really does want help but you are not feeling good enough about yourself to feel okay with receiving comfort and professional help. You may have learned from your family that “you should not be selfish” or that you “don’t deserve anything good”. Remember that you do deserve it.
“I feel weak if I ask for help. I should be self-sufficient and able to work things out for myself”If something goes wrong with your T.V., do you feel that you have to fix it yourself? Once you’ve checked the plug and maybe hit the side and the telly doesn’t get better after several days, you probably will want to call a specialist – a technician who spends his days fixing televisions. People and emotions are much more complicated than your television set. Learning how to solve emotional problems isn’t part of what we are taught at school. Fortunately, there are people (therapists) who specialise in deciphering emotional problems in order to help people recover from emotional difficulties and traumas (Unlike the television technician though, the therapist can only facilitate you to heal yourself, she can’t do your healing for you).
I know that it can be hard to ask for help, but it takes a strong willed person to put aside all of the issues raised in these notes, and set aside all of the thoughts about what other people will think, and take that scary step that leads to growth and self-understanding. It takes courage for people to turn to the experts to help tackle a problem. It’s okay to ask for help.
“The therapist will see things in me that other people can’t see and will pass judgement on me.”Therapists are not mind readers. They are good at noticing body cues and facial expressions, but they do not know what is going on in your mind until you tell them. Good therapists, will not blame, ridicule, or pass judgement on you. If they do, then they are not doing their job properly. If you feel that I am being judgemental then discuss this with me and if you are not satisfied with the outcome, then you can find another therapist.
“My problems are not my fault. I’m not the one that needs to change.”Whenever you are in a situation with more than one person, every encounter will always have actions and reactions. If things are not going well with parents, spouse, or friends, and it is all “their fault,” then consider that you may be able to learn more effective ways of dealing with their reactions.