5 things about therapy you will be relieved to know
As a therapist I am honoured to be privy to people’s deepest struggles, worries, and pain. Spending hours each week listening to personal stories has taught me so much about what it is to be human. You may be relieved to read what I’ve learned…
Almost everyone is worried that their concerns are petty or unimportant
Have you ever felt guilty or ashamed for talking about your problems because you see them as “small” or “insignificant”? Most people worry that their concerns pale in comparison to others who are going through what they see as much more challenging. You might think “How can I talk about my worries about my work when my friend is going through cancer treatment? How can I talk about my body image distress when there’s people living in war torn countries?” As a therapist I don’t compare your pain and worries to the person who sat on the couch before you. I don’t compare your pain to my own, I don’t compare your distress to others in the world. I do this work because I see all pain as significant and because I truly believe that we can all benefit from a safe space to work through any concerns. Nothing is too small.
Many people are hard on themselves for not “having it all together” or “handling this better” as they perceive others to be doing a much better job of it all. In our daily lives we don’t see people’s vulnerability very often. On social media we put our highlight reel out to the world. At work we put on our ‘professional face’. When asked how we are we say “busy!” or “good”. Our culture doesn’t give us a lot of space to say “You know what? I’m struggling actually.” So this gives us the false sense that most people have it all together and that we are defective for struggling. As a therapist I am in the honoured position of hearing people’s worries, witnessing their vulnerability, and sitting with them during struggle. I know that everyone struggles. It’s human to struggle. You are not alone in struggling just because no one is talking about it.
Psychological change is hard and takes time
Everyone has points where they berate themselves for not getting something, or not changing ‘fast enough’. Think about our brain - we know that we can change the brain by creating new neural pathways. What great news that we can learn new ways to think and behave no matter what age we are! However new neural pathways in the brain take time to create. We need to do something repeatedly in order for it to ‘stick’. The new way will feel awkward and we’ll be so keen to go back to the old, well worn way. You are not incompetent because this new learning is taking time - this is just the way the brain works!
Tears are an important part of the process
Many people will apologise for crying in sessions. That makes sense when we think of how our culture responds to displays of emotion. People in your life may get uncomfortable when you express sadness. They may try to get you to stop and “cheer up”, or try to fix things when you just want to be listened to. Seeing the people we love in pain is very difficult and easier to avoid than sit with. However, you do not have to be sorry for feeling when you’re in session with your therapist. That’s what this safe space is for! When you cry I empathise and feel compassion, and I will hold space for your pain. When you cry I am not worried, nor uncomfortable, and I don’t find it ‘too much’. I see it as a sign that our work is going well, you feel safe, you’re feeling important feelings, and we are progressing. You can cry whenever you need or want to with me.
I don’t judge you. I see you and I think you’re amazing
It’s normal to worry that your therapist might have a bad impression of you because you share your most challenging thoughts and behaviours in our sessions. I don’t judge you because you make mistakes sometimes (I make mistakes too!). Guess what, I see your strengths, your values, and the qualities that make you an original and phenomenal human. I see all this amongst the pain and struggle you are experiencing. My hope for you in our sessions is to see yourself how I see you.
You might be interested in enhancing your quality of life, making the most of your potential, and becoming more comfortable in your own skin. Counselling can increase self-awareness, emotional skills, and coping tools so that you can be the best version of you. If you would like a supportive and confidential space to work through your concerns without judgement, I’d love to work with you.