What To Expect When Starting Therapy

Therapy is slowly, but surely, becoming a normalized topic in our society. However, there are often misconceptions about what therapy is and entails, which can make people hesitant to set the first appointment. I believe therapy would be beneficial for everyone, however, I think before starting, people should be aware of the therapeutic process and understand the misconceptions surrounding it. 

THERAPY IS DIFFICULT     

When I first started therapy, I thought learning about and understanding my mental illness would be enough to transform my life. However, what I did not realize was how much hard work and dedication is involved in therapy. In order to help navigate mental illness and destructive behaviors, one must be willing to change habits and attitudes. It took a long time for me to admit that part of the reason I often felt mentally exhausted and depressed was due to my actions and behaviors. I work hard every day to choose healthier, more constructive alternatives to aid my healing process. Somedays, I mess up. Other days, my mental illness takes over and halts my progression. However, I have learned that I have infinite chances to do things differently. Each and every day is a new opportunity and past failures do not dictate the possibility of future success. 

UNCOMFORTABLE DOESN’T MEAN BAD

When I first started therapy, I was unaware of how uncomfortable I would feel talking about certain topics. When I would feel discomfort, I would shut down and push my feelings deeper, refusing to let my therapist in. However, as I began to trust my therapist and trust the process, I realized that being uncomfortable is not an excuse to ignore something.  Discomfort is not a pleasant sensation; however, feeling uncomfortable usually means the topic at hand is important and crucial to healing. A good therapist will allow their patients to take their time discussing sensitive subjects and will not pry information out of them. However, I would implore anyone who is in or wants to start therapy to try and express when they are feeling discomfort.

HEALING HAPPENS OVER TIME

Many people start therapy thinking all of their problems will be fixed instantly. However, what some do not realize is therapy is a healing process that can take a long time. I have been with my current therapist for approximately seven months, and sometimes I feel like I am simply scratching the surface. I do not mean to discourage anyone with this information, as I have learned and made crucial steps along the way. During my time with my therapist, I have laid a healthier, more stable foundation around me, which lets my therapist and I delve deeper. When one has tools and a sense of stability, discussing more personal, compilated topics can feel less overwhelming and more manageable.  

THERAPY CAN BE EXAUSTING

Many people do not realize how emotionally and mentally taxing therapy can be. There are days I leave therapy feeling motivated and more clear minded; however, there are also occasions when I leave feeling drained. In therapy sessions, one is likely to encounter topics that make them uncomfortable, afraid, and anxious. Talking about and navigating intense, deep seeded trauma can be exhausting. However, a good therapist will give ways to cope and recuperate in order to help heal. Part of the healing process is identifying and letting oneself feel every feeling, and while that may be hard and scary, it pays off. If therapy becomes consistently exhausting, I would recommend discussing this feeling with your therapist, as they will likely have alternative ways to help ease discomfort and emotional fatigue. 

HONESTY IS KEY

One of the biggest realizations I had while going to therapy was how important (and difficult) being honest is. Growing up hiding, ignoring, or repressing certain emotions can make it hard to discuss what one is feeling with complete honesty. However, it is in everyone’s best interest to try and be as open and honest as possible in order for maximum healing to occur. There may be times when you mess up and fail, which can cause feelings of guilt and fear in telling your therapist. However, a good therapist should never make their patient feel judged or unworthy. Messing up is a part of the therapeutic process. Discussing mistakes is just as important as discussing triumphs. When I tell my therapist about my shortcomings, I never feel judged. On the contrary, I feel loved, accepted, and human. 

IT’S WORTH IT

The last thing one should know before starting therapy, is that even though it may be hard, uncomfortable, or draining, it is worth it. During my time in therapy, I have learned about myself, my needs, my behaviors; and with each new piece of knowledge I gain, I become a healthier, happier me. 

 

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