Before we jump in, let’s first address the elephant in the room. Therapy has acquired a pretty awful connotation. Somehow it’s been labeled as something that’s for people who are “broken” or have something “seriously wrong” with them. It’s for people who are “too weak” to deal with their issues or “need to be medicated” to get their mind right. All. Of. These. Are. LIES!
The truth is, we’re all broken. It’s par for the course of living this thing called life in a world that’s fallen and broken and has been that way since the Garden of Eden. As a result, some of the stuff we have to deal with is beyond our human capacity to cope on our own for no other reason than: we weren’t built for this. But that’s another topic for another day.
Facing those facts, we have a choice to make. We can either wallow in what’s overwhelming us, or grow through what we go through. My practice is dedicated to helping those who choose the latter. That choice comes with a commitment to be an active and engaged participant in the therapy process. Therapy can’t fix what you’re unwilling to face, and facing it sometimes is more than half the battle. I get that.
In my office, I help my clients embark on this journey by embracing what I’ve come to call the pillars of my practice. You can adapt these same principles to help you navigate your own therapy experience and ensure you get the most and the best out of each session.
1. Humanity. The feelings and emotions that lead someone to therapy are things that are common to the human experience. Everyone has felt sad, lonely, depressed or anxious before. Youâre not broken or beneath anyone else for having challenges you need to process. With that in mind, you can feel assured instead of anxious that seeking help is a positive choice.
2. Transparency. When you embrace the humanness of your experience, you can be open and honest with your therapist. Therapy yields the best breakthroughs when you are transparent with yourself and with your therapist. That doesnât mean you have to know or understand everything. A willingness to communicate, even the uncertainty you may feel, will allow your therapist to gain a clearer understanding of who you are and how they can support you.
Don’t worry about what your therapist is thinking or if what you need to share will be too much for them. Be honest even when it’s hard, makes you cry or feel frustrated. Your therapist is there to help you navigate through and deal with complex emotions.
3. Community. As the old adage says, âNo [wo]man is an island.â While therapists are experts in their respective fields, no one person is more of an expert on your life than you are. Your therapistâs job is to be another pillar in your support system. They will walk with you through your healing. Therapy is a collaborative process; so as you identify the areas where you would like to see growth in or see progress in managing specific problems, your therapist will collaborate with you to help you meet your overall goals.
So if you’ve been considering therapy but have felt uneasy about whether it’s for you, whether it’ll work, or whether it’ll be worth it, I encourage you to schedule a preview consultation with a licensed mental health professional in your area. Get to know them and how they facilitate their clients’ experience. Do this until you find a therapist you feel comfortable being transparent with, and whom you believe will be a supportive member of your community that will help you heal and thrive in your humanity. Then go. Schedule your sessions according to your therapist’s recommendations and be present and engaged for every one. Do the work both in the office and at home, and reflect on your progress (journaling helps with this!) from week to week.
Be encouraged. Superheroes need support, too. And if it’s a therapist’s help you need to take off the mask and mend your cape, that’s one hundred percent ok. Save yourself first.