When someone starts thinking about seeing a counsellor or therapist, they become aware of some of their fears about embarking on this unique relationship. Opening up to another person, a stranger, about your intimate, painful feelings is certainly a daunting prospect. There are some common fears and misconceptions about counselling and what you can expect from working with a therapist. Here are the main ones I’ve come across:
Will you think I’m crazy?
I think you are a unique human being, doing your best to find your way in the world. None of us is perfect and there are times we all need help and support. Effective change usually requires trial and lots of errors. Also, if I think you’re being irrational, I’ll tell you.
Will I be able to trust you?
Your ability to connect with me will be the number one factor determining how well we work together. If you don’t feel like you click with me after a few sessions, it’s OK to let me know and seek out a different therapist/counsellor. We all need different things and my main priority is for you to achieve your goals.
Will you psychoanalyse me?
My job is to be curious and to help you gain more understanding. A good counsellor doesn’t claim to have all the answers for why you are the way you are although we may have some ideas that we will willingly share with you. When it comes to getting answers and more understanding, we will form hypotheses together and you will come to your own conclusions. A counsellor facilitates that process. They don’t tell you how to think/believe/act.
Will you tell me what to do?
I’m here to share my knowledge with you and help you make your own decisions that are balanced, rational and well-explored. Strengthening your own reasoning and decision-making skills will increase your independence and self-esteem.
How am I going to feel? Will I be able to bear it?
Therapy is the perfect place to learn how to express your feelings. That’s what I’m here for, to give you a space to try out new ways of being, thinking and feeling. Take advantage of this. When we learn how to work through our negative emotions with others, it increases our relationship skills and makes us more comfortable with voicing our hurts. This is a necessary component to maintaining relationships and managing emotions in a healthy way.
If I slide backward into old behavior patterns, will you judge me?
Most people judge themselves enough for at least two people. I encourage my clients to come clean. It’s only through acknowledging our steps backward that we can figure out what’s standing in the way to moving forward. Relapse is very common and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Will I ever be happy?
Happiness is not reserved for special people. Everyone has regrets, things we wish we hadn’t done, people we’ve hurt along the way, people who have hurt us either intentionally or unintentionally. I believe that we can heal our wounds and you deserve happiness just as much as the next person.
Will you fix my life/problems?
I can help you gain more clarity, more understanding and form a plan of action, but therapy is not a magic pill that erases all issues. It takes work, and only you can make the changes/choices necessary for you. But if you’re willing to work with me – and to be as open and honest as you possibly can – we can find the right way for you.
People come to therapy for all kinds of reasons. Beginning therapy can be scary for some as they are showing a willingness to face tough topics. For others, it’s a huge relief to finally be taking action to move in a different direction. Therapy isn’t always easy, but I think it’s the most worthwhile gift you can give yourself. Find someone you trust and who puts you at ease. The relationship you build with your therapist is the most important aspect of all.