Whenever I tell people what I do for a living, I get the same reaction; big eyes followed by ‘Wow, that must be hard’. And I always meet this with the same response, I give a big smile and I say, ‘I love it’.
What I wish everyone knew about therapy
Most people think that all I do is sit and listen to people’s problems all day long. What I believe is that I get the opportunity to see couples and individuals change and grow, and to learn to thrive rather than just survive. And yes, this is challenging as my style of work is direct and fully integrate mind and body through the therapeutic process, therefore, it requires constant awareness and self-work from me as well. I truly believe that people heal fully when they address their emotions on a mental and physical level.
Here are a few things I wish everyone knew about therapy.
1. A psychologist is not there to give you advice.
My job is not to psychoanalyze you. My job is to be curious and to help you gain more understanding. I’m here to share my knowledge with you and help you make your own decisions that are balanced, rational, authentic and well-explored.
Talking to a therapist and opening up about the challenges you go through is completely different than talking about it with your friend or family. A psychologist has a unique, less biased view of your life, and will, therefore, be able to provide you with a perspective that is solely about you. This is really different from your mom giving you advice or your friends telling you ‘don’t worry, tomorrow it will be better’.
2. Everyone struggles
We all have better days and worse days. It’s absolutely normal to go through ups and downs, to have challenges and sometimes feel overwhelmed. It’s normal to have issues. The issues are part of the lesson of life and this is what forms the platform to grow, to upskill and become a better person. I wish more people knew that getting help is a sign of strength and growth mindset.
Therapy offers new tools and professional expertise. If I have a tooth pain, I go to the dentist; if my car breaks down, I go to the mechanic. We get professional support for all kinds of problems and mental wellness and well-being is no different.
3. Number one factor for healing is the relationship with the therapist
Different therapists practicing different approaches. That’s why it’s worth finding the person you will ‘click with’ – where you have a feeling that you want to open up and tell more.
Your relationship with your therapist should have good boundaries and model a healthy relationship, so you can learn about healthy relationships and practice it via interaction with your therapist. One thing to remember though, nothing works if we’re not honest, especially with ourselves. It doesn’t matter how well trained and amazing therapist you will see, it won’t work if you are not willing to bring honesty to the table. We become very good at lying to ourselves — and others. But self-growth is impossible unless we’re honest.
4. It’s not only talking and listening
Yes, your therapist will likely ask you a lot of questions. These questions will typically be very powerful as they trigger your mind to reflect, to question, to evaluate and to make new personal perspective. By finding the answers, you will build your base in order to use the tools and strategies you will get and design with your therapist. Tools are one of the more obvious ways that your therapist will help you. They will be tailored to you and can be used inside and outside of the session. From my experience, I can see that the most powerful tool is the fresh perspective, again, that the therapist doesn’t know your family, friends, or co-workers.
5. There’s no magic strategy that will bring happiness to everyone
The magic happens when your therapist validates your experience. They will say things like “I hear you” or “I’ll sit with you through this.” This is one of the most powerful parts of therapy. Just sitting with you while you cry and not telling you to stop crying can be truly transformational.
6. I expect you to slide backward to old behaviour patterns and I’m not here to judge you
I see many people judging themselves. They are harsh and let the self-criticism rule their inner talk. I encourage my clients to come clean, to acknowledge the inner reaction and be okay with a softer version. Changing patterns that have kept us safe for years won’t happen overnight. It’s a process and the key element of process of change is experience of ‘ups and downs’. It flows, it feels good and optimistic and then old setback comes into the picture and we feel down and struggle for a moment. This is why learning mental flexibility and understanding the process of change is key in any coaching or therapeutic relationship.
7. You can get better, no matter what you’re struggling with
Things like anxiety, depression, feeling stuck, relationship troubles and feeling lost and overwhelmed can all get better. Understanding the old pattern of automatic behaviours and adding some structure to your life can help. Learning to think, work, exercise and live differently can help. We all struggle and we all need a fresh perspective.
8. Therapist holds you in their mind at all times
It’s the truth. Did you know this? I think this is a fundamental aspect of therapy.When you are away from your therapist, they are thinking about you, working through the challenges you have shared with them, holding the hope for you. You are no longer just in it on your own. There is someone else walking along side you at all times. It’s a connection and commitment on both sides.
You don’t need to be in deep trouble to go to therapy. In fact, most of the clients I work with, come for a regular coaching or counselling sessions preventively. It help them communicate better with their partners. If they come as a couple, they get to know themselves in the context of the relationship and get equipped with tools to manage their daily challenges.
Therapy isn’t always easy, but I think it’s the most worthwhile gift you can give yourself. Find someone you trust and who outs you at ease. Someone who will make you feel safe and curious.
Want to know more about how to choose the best therapy for you? Download this e-book from Beata for free!