What is therapy and what can I expect?
Updated: Jan 7, 2020
What is Therapy?
Your grandma thinks it’s taboo. Your mom’s best friend goes because she went through a bad divorce. But all your friends and co-workers say it’s necessary- like a mini emotional tune-up.
You’re left thinking…
So, what is therapy all about anyway?
If you’re at least considering therapy, I’m excited for you! You’re probably at a place where you’re realizing that you’ll benefit from a little bit more support.
My Experience with Therapy
I love therapy- both in my role as a clinician, but also in the past, as the client! I would often describe therapy to many of my friends as “the sacred hour…” but hey, I know that may not be the case for everyone, especially if you are just considering coming to therapy for the first time. There may be many thoughts going through your mind...is my issue even really that big? Why would I pay someone to listen to me? Ugh, the thought of sharing my deepest thoughts and fears is scary.
I’m often asked by clients and others…”What is therapy?” and “What does it look like?” I’ve found that as a society, we have this biased perspective on mental health treatment and those who “need” it. So, let me demystify the experience a bit.
Therapy is a chance for you to meet with a trained mental health clinician and seek support related to mental health concerns, relationships, increasing awareness about yourself and your experiences, and/or just stressors around LIFE. Therapy is both prevention and treatment. It’s prevention because it is focused on improving your overall wellbeing, while helping you overcome internal or interpersonal patterns that may serve as barriers to your future goals. Therapy as treatment is focused on decreasing symptomatology (let’s say… you’re finding that you’re increasingly worrying or are feeling more sad than usual). Treatment will help you in identifying factors that are contributing to recent or ongoing changes, as well as focusing on ways to resolve them and get you back to your baseline! Evidence-based approaches are utilized to help you in not only reducing symptoms and gaining greater insight into your thinking patterns and impact, but also in learning effective coping strategies to promote your quality of life.
What Will Your First Therapy Appointment be Like?
During your first appointment with a clinician, you are often asked various questions to best understand your presenting concerns and what could be most helpful for you.
I describe therapy as an intentional conversation focused on your needs, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It’s hopefully a safe space, where you feel understood and supported, while also emotionally challenged and stretched (...yes, it may be uncomfortable, but it’ll pay-off and it’ll be when you’re ready for it).
The most important ingredient of any therapy is the THERAPEUTIC RELATIONSHIP. Research has found that the strength of the therapeutic relationship has been associated with the extent of positive change within therapy. So, check in with yourself when picking a therapist… think of who you would feel comfortable with (i.e., personality types, shared backgrounds), how you feel with them in the therapy room, do you feel that they understand you? Some things to consider…
Yes, there are often times many personal, financial, familial, and cultural barriers to coming in for therapy. You may be the first person in your immediate family that is seeking therapy. Although it is different, it does not mean that it is wrong. Just like we take the time to invest in our physical wellbeing, we want to spend that same amount of time in connecting and taking care of our mental and emotional wellbeing- regardless of how you decide to do that. I see therapy really as another form of support there for you because you DESERVE the support and space to take care of you.
Oh, and...no pain is too little for support- remember that.
Stay relationally well,