9 Things Your Therapist Wants You To Know
For many people, therapy is a bit of a mystery – and, between the drama of Hollywood representations and our own expectations, the reality can often be a bit surprising. While most misguided ideas about therapy sessions are harmless, sometimes they can lead to problems regarding success rates, timelines, or types of treatment.
So, here’s how you can be prepared for your first (or next) visit to your therapist in Calgary. Here are 9 important things that you therapist wants you to know!
What to Know About Therapists
1. We help those who want to help themselves.
Booking an appointment and showing up for it is an excellent step – but it is just one step in a longer journey. True healing and recovery take time and effort, and only putting in part of the work will hold you back. Not only that, but it will make it much more difficult for your therapist to gain traction and make a meaningful difference to your mindset and condition. Getting involved in the process may feel impossible, but once you get in the groove, it will get much easier. Remember, mental health concerns like anxiety, depression, and PTSD are not life sentences. With a strong collaborative therapy relationship in place, you can even reach a point where you no longer meet the criteria for the disorder.
2. Confidentiality is everything.
By law, your therapist must maintain confidentiality with everything you tell them. They cannot talk about you or your sessions to friends or family, or even say hello if they see you in public without your prior consent! The only time this rule may be broken is if you are an immediate danger to yourself or to others around you.
3. We have heard it all before.
As therapists, we deal with a wide range of mental health conditions and disorders every day – and our job is to help and advise, not judge on what we hear. Whatever secrets, past behaviours, or confessions you may have, a therapist’s office is a safe place for them to be discussed. We’ve seen and heard it all!
4. The right fit is crucial. Finding the right therapist for you is an important part of establishing a good, productive relationship. There’s no need to stick with your first choice (or second, or third…) if it feels like it isn’t a good fit, but that’s not a reason to give up. It means you are pursuing what you want out of therapy and are making sure it’s available in the psychologist or psychiatrist you choose. Many places, Flourish included, have a free consultation over the phone when you are considering a new therapist, making sure that the rapport is right. These are great opportunities to see how comfortable you are, and rest assured that there is no offense taken if you don’t continue with more sessions – sometimes, we may even refer you to someone else ourselves if we know they would be a better fit. Finally, make sure you connect with a therapist that is trained in the specific treatments you need. Just like any other profession, therapists can specialize in different areas – trauma therapy, behavioural therapy, couples therapy, etc. – and that’s important to think about when narrowing down your choices.
What to Know About Therapy Sessions
5. Going to therapy is completely normal. While much of the stigma and diminishment of therapy is disappearing, there are still those who think that seeing a psychologist means there is something wrong with the client using the service. This is a big misconception that can actually do a lot of harm, as plenty of people avoid getting much-needed help due to the social consequences. As we have seen over the last few years, though, mental health is an integral part of overall health, and not every issue needs to be a formally described condition like anxiety or depression. People go to therapy for reasons that are entirely unique to their situation – relationship troubles, personal problems, stress at work, general advice on big decisions – and therapists can help guide you forward in a healthy and cathartic way.
6. It's not always easy. Reliving past trauma and uncovering issues that can completely alter your lifestyle and perspective is not a simple, straightforward task. Even talking about these things can cause negative emotional reactions, and if you are not used to that, it can feel scary and overwhelming. However, therapists are aware of this – and one of the big things that we do is help you build skills, confidence, and methods of overcoming these negative thoughts. Ignoring negative emotions is a short-term fix, and if you are suddenly confronted with them when you are unprepared, it is much more difficult than if you have developed the necessary skills to deal. It might not always be easy, but over time, it always gets easier. 7. Couples therapy is harder than individual sessions, and not always successful. Relationship issues can be incredibly frustrating: not only are you having a difficult time, but the one person who you would usually turn to is the source of it. On top of that, admitting that your relationship needs work is hard and requires a lot of honesty and mindfulness. With that said, couples counselling is not a walk in the park. Both sides need to put in the effort for their partner, and a failure to do so will likely be seen as “giving up” on something that is there to help. As therapists, we can only do so much for couples – and if there is a lot of resistance, counselling probably won’t be able to save a faltering relationship. So, keep your expectations realistic and prepare to roll up your sleeves. 8. We don't know everything. While we are well-trained and experienced in the different methods of treatment and analysis, therapists are people, too. We will never know everything or have every answer to every question. Sometimes we may need more time to get to the root of a problem, and it’s something that can be solved with further sessions (one hour is usually not enough). Sometimes there just may be no answer to be found. Having expectations of professionalism and knowledge from your therapist is fine; assuming they will be perfect and all-knowing is not. 9. We don't have to agree with you on everything. While we will always listen to you, that doesn’t mean we need to nod along and give validation to your ideas. We are there to identify unhealthy behaviours and thought patterns, and work with you on ways to resolve them so you can lead a better life. Agreeing with everything you say is troublesome, both for you personally and for your success with future treatments.
With that said, we are always here to help, giving you new tools to make better choices and avoid past attitudes and negative actions.