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Easing Common Fears About Going to Therapy

It’s really cool when my clients help others better understand how and why therapy is helpful. I’m especially impressed with my teen clients. They are really great about sharing the news that therapy can be effective and you don’t have to be “crazy” to go. People of all ages are mostly suspicious of therapy. They fear that it will be an unhelpful waste of time and money and/or potentially make things worse. Yikes! That’s a reputation I think therapists need to work harder to change.

I can only speak to the way I do things, but here are my clarifications on common fears people have about therapy:

  1. The therapist will tell me to do things I don’t want to do.
    I’m certainly not going to tell you what to do. My job is to help you identify more clearly what you want and collaborate with you in figuring out how to get there. If there is something you don’t want to change, that’s your right.
  2. The therapist will just stare at me blankly and give me no helpful guidance.
    That would be extremely boring for me, so I’m not going to do that! I’m not going to tell people what to do, but if you need some new ideas and guidance, I’ll help you out. If you say, “how might you suggest I handle this situation” I’m going to come up with some new ideas for you to consider. I won’t leave you hanging. With me (and I think most therapists) sessions are conversations, not monologues.
  3. The therapist will make me talk about painful things I don’t want to share.
    Again, I’m not here to make people do anything. In fact, I can’t. I’m just not that powerful. My job is to help you with your goals, not to create them for you. Sometimes, people don’t want to look at painful things that get in the way of present goals. I’m going to point that out to you and give you choices about how you want to handle it, but I will not make you talk about anything.
  4. The therapist will analyze me and have secret thoughts about how messed up I am.  That’s not my style. I’m interested in helping you out with what you want, not making up stories in my head about ways in which you fall short. Frankly, I don’t have any room in my brain for that sort of activity. Plus, I am going to share with you what my thoughts are about your situation in a way that’s helpful and informative. I’m not some know-it-all who has preconceived ideas about you and your life. We are coming up with ideas, connections, solutions together, not identifying all the ways in which you have potentially messed up. That’s not helpful, and I only care about being helpful.

For more thoughts on starting therapy, check out my other post on the subject. If you are considering starting therapy, I’m happy to talk with you about how I might approach a particular subject or situation. Just call or email. I won’t pressure you into anything, I promise.

POSTED: 20 Jan, 2012

TAGS: life transitions , mental health , psychotherapy , therapy

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