“Go see a therapist,” they said. “You’ll feel better,” they said. Well, take it from a therapist (who has been in therapy), there’s more to the story…
If you think you’re going to go to a therapist, tell them your problems, get some quick answers that solve all your life problems, and walk out feeling better, you’re wrong. Here’s what actually happens in those “therapeutic safe spaces.”
You’re Going To Feel Like Crap!
Yep, it’s true. Therapy is exhausting.
You’re Going To Look Like Crap, Too!
Forget the eye make-up. Bring your jade roller for those puffy eyes instead. Those damn therapists find a way to get the waterworks going. It’s some kind of weird therapists sorcery. You walk in with some pep-in-your-step ready to talk about your new car and you leave looking like a hot mess.
It’s Like Being Back In School.
Homework? Seriously? I just gave you $150 and you’re telling me that the “growth” happens outside of session.
You’re Going to Get Called Out On Your Bullshit.
So, about the aforementioned homework that you didn’t do for three consecutive weeks because, well, life. “You didn’t do your homework because you didn’t have time? Let’s explore this further. Tell me again, how much time did you spend on social media this week. In what other ways is your poor time management causing problems in your life?” Grrr!
It Takes Time.
Not only does it take more than one, or a few, sessions, the therapist won’t even give you a definitive answer. When I take my car in for servicing, I’m told a pretty specific (albeit not always accurate), time frame, “It’ll be ready at noon.” Great! Thanks! Therapy, nope.
You Don’t Get Concrete Answers.
What is up with that? You go in with a specific question, “Should I break-up with my boyfriend?” Do you get a yes or no? Of course not. Those therapists love to respond to questions with questions. “What do you think you should do?” Come on! If I knew, would I be asking you?
BUT, keep reading…
It’s not all bad. In fact, if you stick with it, therapy can be life-changing and, in some cases life-saving. The truth about therapy is that everyone’s experience is uniquely their own. It’s different for everyone.
Will you feel like crap? Possibly…at first. But you already do! That’s why you are considering therapy or are in therapy already. Discussing feelings and life-experiences can leave you feeling vulnerable, ashamed, raw. You might wake up the next morning with an emotional hangover. But therapy can help you better understand why you feel the way you feel and why you behave the way you do. And then the magic…how to make healthy, positive changes. You’ll learn healthy ways of coping with the crap that life throws your way. You’ll change your perspective of self and the world. In summary, the crappy feeling passes and you wind up feeling stronger, more capable, and confident.
Will you look like crap? Ok, maybe that’s dramatic. But you may cry and there’s nothing wrong with that. Crying can be cathartic. Crying can come from pain but also joy, relief, and closure.
Yes, there is sometimes homework (all important growth requires more than an hour per week of effort). You can’t expect to go running for an hour per week and then run a marathon. Without homework, without practicing and implementing skills outside of session, you won’t have long-term results. You need to practice your new skills, your new language, in order to become proficient.
Yes, there may be gentle confrontation but it’s not judgmental. It’s an effort to help you understand your own self-sabotaging behaviors.
How long will this take, you ask. Well, it’s not forever. I know, that’s not the answer you were seeking. It depends on so many variables. I can say, however, that my goal is never for my patients to need me forever.
Finally, why don’t we give direct answers. Well, I do sometimes but see above. I want you to learn how to problem solve and come up with answers on your own. Also, honestly, I don’t have all the answers, but I will work with you to find solutions.
Just Do It…
If you’re reading this, you’re at least considering therapy. Just do it. You have done and can do hard things. You deserve it!