Many of the people who contact me haven’t been in therapy before. Maybe they have some friends who have opened up about their counseling experiences or maybe their only frame of reference is glimpses into therapy sessions on tv or in the movies — which let me tell you, aren’t always the best examples.
Whenever we try something new, it’s normal to feel nervous or want to have an idea of what to expect.
I do my best to help new clients get an idea of what they can expect by encouraging them to get a feel for me through my website and in our first session. I also love answering questions about how I work and what to expect.
I think it’s also important for clients to reflect on their own about whether they are ready for therapy. Therapy is an investment of time and money–I’ve found that people get out of therapy what they are willing to put in.
I’ve reflected on the clients who seem to get the most out of therapy and I’ve found these common themes:
- You feel stuck.
Therapy can be helpful at any time, but most of us turn to a counselor when we’re in pain. Most of my clients come to me because they are noticing patterns in their lives or relationships that are keeping them stuck. Therapy can help you gain insight, shift your perspective and practice new skills that can get you unstuck.
- You’ve tried Self Help, but nothing changes.
There are so many self-help books available—I even find myself recommending some favorites to clients. If you’ve tried the self-help route and not much has changed, don’t get discouraged! I think we can get caught up in seeking answers in book after book, without taking the time or getting the support we need. Therapy helps us go deeper and make lasting change.
- You are willing to invest regularly in the process of therapy.
Across the board, the clients that make a commitment to attend therapy regularly see the most transformation. Think of it this way: if you are out of shape and then decide to work out once a twice a month sporadically, are you going to see a difference?
- You know there are no “quick fixes.”
Oh, if only I had a magic wand to make everything better. If there were a quick fix to your problems, you’d probably have already figured it out. When we’re looking at long-standing patterns, it takes time to break them down and shift our ways of seeing, being, thinking and feeling—but it’s so worth it!
- You want to start thinking differently about things.
You are open to compassionate feedback that will help you look at things differently.
- You are willing to get out of your comfort zone.
My first intention as a therapist is to help you feel supported and accepted. My hope is that with my support and acceptance, you will be willing to step outside your comfort zone and try new things.
- You want to talk through something without being bombarded by advice.
Do you talk through your problems with friends and family only to be bombarded by advice that you don’t want? Therapy is different because I don’t want to just tell you what to do, I want to help you acknowledge the underlying problem and find authentic (true to you) ways to address it.
- You are willing to look inward.
Using time in therapy to blame everyone and everything around you is most likely going to go in circles and only frustrate yourself more. It’s human to look outside ourselves at the “problems” in our life, but we also have to be willing to look inward at our emotions and thoughts that impact our own behavior.
- You know you can be open/honest in therapy.
Your relationship with your therapist is unlike other relationships in your life because the attention is one-way in your direction. If you can’t be open or honest in therapy, it will be hard to receive the support you need.
- You’re willing to trust the process.
You’ll get out of therapy what you are willing to put in. By trusting the process, committing to regular appointments, being honest with yourself and your therapist about what you are experiencing, and being open to support and feedback, you will see change.
Does this sound like you? Maybe it’s time to find a therapist of your own. It can be so rewarding!