If you’re in the mental health field, you might have come across lots of people who are scared to go to therapy or just don’t have any idea about what it is like. As counselors, therapists and psychotherapists, the Pause for Perspective team has also encountered a lot of people over the years who seem to be hesitant about therapy. Sometimes these individuals are clients themselves.
With the rise in mental health issues across the country, due to the pandemic or other political reasons, people are advocating for therapy. But because of the stigmatization of therapy and mental health, there’s a lot of hesitancy.
The idea of therapy can be scary. Having to talk about one’s life experiences to a complete stranger (at first) is terrifying, at best. However, we’re here to help you and tell you how therapy works and what it actually is, so that you’re not clueless about it. Therapy is a process and an investment. This article will help you be prepared for what’s going to come.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU START THERAPY
Find the right therapist for you!
Finding the perfect therapist for you can be a little daunting and usually, the right therapist for you might not be the first therapist you go to. It takes time to truly ‘vibe’ with your therapist, that is, for you and the therapist to get along well. You have to make sure that you feel comfortable to talk to your therapist. If you can’t do that, then therapy won’t be of much benefit.
To find the right therapist, look at their credentials. What are their educational qualifications? Because there are many types of mental health professionals, it’s better to take a lot at their qualifications and their expertise. Do they work with the problems you seem to have? This is essential. And if you feel like a therapist might be good, then check their reviews on Practo to get a sense of how they work with the clients.
Another tip that’s useful is to look for a therapist that has a similar cultural background. Relatability is essential. You want to be able to talk without explaining certain things. Cultural similarity will strengthen the therapist-client rapport.
CONFIDENTIALITY AND INFORMED CONSENT
Since it’s your first time, it’s natural to be scared about confidentiality. Being worried about private details of your life leaking out is more common than you think it is. But the reality of it is quite different. Confidentiality is KEY when it comes to therapy. Therapists are bound by the ethics governed by this profession and by law to keep these sessions private. In fact, this is the FIRST thing they teach budding mental health professional.
However, there are exceptions ot this confidentiality. To protect you and the therapist and to maintain the professionalism of the relationship, you will have to sign a contract. This contract is Informed Consent. Informed consent is when you give out your consent and agree to the rules of the organization. Confidentiality can be broken if there’s an indication of harm to self or harm to others. It can be broken in the court room as well. Discuss the terms of confidentiality with your therapist and ask questions if you’re in doubt!
THERAPISTS DON’T GIVE OUT SOLUTIONS OR ADVICE
Therapists are there to aid you and help facilitate the change you want to make in yourself. However, a key factor is that therapists don’t give advice or solutions. They have no right to dictate how you want to live your life. They are there to help you. Giving advice or directing you on how to handle things will make you dependent on the therapist. It’s imperative to know that you have the agency to lead your life, and therapists are only facilitators to this change. You might think, ‘if they don’t give solutions then what do they do?’ They listen, and then provide you information and bring to light the issues you may seem to have. But remember, your life is yours and no one knows it better than you.
THERAPY REQUIRES COMMITMENT AND CONSISTENCY
Change takes time. To be able to be the best version of yourself, give yourself time. Therapy doesn’t end in one session. And honestly, there’s no timeline as to how healing works. We’re all different and our healing will work on different tangents. To be able to reach your goals faster, you have to be consistent with therapy. You cannot be irregular and expect to see some changes. Consistency is important to make progress. And this consistency will come from the commitment you have, for yourself and for your future.
HEALING IS NOT LIMITED TO THERAPY ROOMS
Healing extends beyond the rooms you have sessions in. After your sessions, it’s important to reflect on the thoughts shared between you and your therapist. This helps in applying it in your life outside the therapist’s room. If a therapist gives you homework, make sure to do it and reflect on those too. When you come for therapy, you are responsible for your healing. The therapist is an enabler of this healing, but the work must be done by yourself.
The therapist is your ally but not your friend!
A therapist is NOT your friend. You might feel close to them because they understand all your life experiences, but it does not change the fact that you share a professional relationship. A client-therapist relationship is ethical and professional. They will help you, listen to you and help you become a better version of yourself but they will never cross that line. It is unethical and causes a conflict. Lines can be blurred really soon and you will find it difficult to talk to your therapist about some things after a while. A friend’s role and a therapist’s role in your life differ greatly and mixing these two will cause a role conflict, which will impact your therapy.
Good therapists hold you accountable
Good therapists hold you accountable for your actions. While they empathize and listen, they also point out the incongruities you have and also, after some time, hold you accountable for the things you do. However, it is done in a way you might not even realize it. But the goal of it is to help you realize the motivations behind your actions, and help you make better choices for yourself. Pointing out these incongruities is for your benefit.
Lastly, it does get worse before it gets better!
One of the reasons why people leave therapy initially is because they feel they felt worse than when they came in. Therapy means that the client unloads years/months of distress. This can cause repressed feelings to resurface. And after this, the healing begins. So yes, you will feel horrible and you will think that it’s not working, but be patient! It does work. It will. Therapy is an investment. It takes time to heal from distressing moments but if you’re persistent, you will walk out fresher, happier and more confident!
Therapy can get hard sometimes, and it requires a lot of effort from the client. Working through issues is hard. And the healing graph is not always linear. It varies greatly. Therapy depends on how you receive it. Pause for Perspective has a diverse team of counselors you can choose from. You can visit their profiles on the website here. And after you find the therapist who you think works for you, you can DM us on Instagram for a session!