1. Therapists don’t have all the answers
While I wish we were all-knowing mind readers, the fact is we are not. We do, however, have specialized training and experience working with a wide variety of issues, and can therefore offer ideas, support, tools and strategies as we work with you to determine the best course of treatment for you.
2. Therapy isn’t all about getting advice—we listen more than we talk
While most therapists will offer suggestions, and specialized therapists are often more specific with treatment (for example, treatment of eating disorders or addictions). We are here to help you understand yourself and your situation, facilitate you determining what you want, and then helping you move in that direction.
3. You determine what we talk about in therapy
Some individuals avoid going to therapy for their anxiety because they fear they will also have to talk about every other detail of their life. That simply is not the case. While most therapists will want a deeper understanding of your situation so we can provide the most meaningful help, if you set a boundary (for example, ‘I do not want to talk about my past sexual abuse’), we will respect that.
4. Length and frequency of therapy varies—don’t wait to schedule because you’re ‘too busy’
Some clients avoid scheduling a therapy session because they don’t want to commit to weekly sessions or years of psychotherapy. Luckily, the length and frequency of therapy is up to you (though we are here to offer suggestions, if you need them). Some individuals come in weekly, others biweekly, and some for monthly or even yearly check-ins. Some individuals come in for one session, others for a few weeks or months, and some for years. And remember, just because you discontinue therapy doesn’t mean you can never go back—your previous therapist (or a new one) would probably love to hear from you again.
5. Your therapist is not gossiping about you with friends and family
Confidentiality is a top priority of therapists. We respect you and your privacy and therefore do not talk about you to our friends and family. We may discuss more general aspects of your case with other trained professionals for consultation. However, we would first obtain your written consent if we wanted to discuss specific details of your case.
6. Your therapist is not looking you up on social media
Again, we respect your privacy and confidentiality. It’s most important for us to understand your perspective. If we feel like other perspectives would be beneficial in your treatment, we will typically invite you to ask a family member or friend to participate in a therapy session(s).
7. No two therapists are exactly alike. Don’t let one bad experience with therapy stop you from seeking help
I cannot count the number of clients I have worked with that have delayed treatment due to a previously bad experience in therapy. Remember, client-therapist fit is important. If you go to a few sessions with one therapist and feel like it’s not helpful, try meeting with another therapist.
8. You don’t have to have a mental illness or have experienced trauma to seek therapy
In my experience, most people (if not all) can benefit from therapy. While therapists do work with mental illness and trauma, we are also here to provide guidance and support for you as you deal with all of life’s challenges. Don’t miss out on bettering your life, learning more about yourself, and preparing for the future because you’re worried your situation isn’t ‘significant enough’ for therapy. It is and you are worth it!
9. Most therapists have seen a therapist
It is actually required in most graduate programs. A large portion of my program revolved around working through our individual issues so that they would not impede our work with clients. Much of this was accomplished through our own individual therapy. So when we say we understand how you feel coming to therapy—the hesitation, anxiety, doubt, fears, and vulnerability—we really do!
10. Your relationship with your therapist does not replace your support system
While your relationship with your therapist is very important, and even healing, it is also important that you build or strengthen your support system outside of therapy. This allows therapy to a temporary experience and helps you gain the support you need to continue to overcome life’s challenges without scheduling a therapy session after each hardship. Not sure how to do this? Don’t worry, your therapist can help
11. Different therapists have different specialties
Just like medical doctors, therapists also have different specializations. While many therapists are trained to work with a wide variety of concerns, more specialized issues (such as eating disorders, addictions or sexual trauma) require specific treatment and specialized therapists. Mental health professionals that meet with a client outside of their specialty should refer. However, make sure that you are doing your research before scheduling a session to increase the likelihood of getting the individualized care that you deserve.
12. Therapy is a safe place where you can be vulnerable
As mental health professionals, we are here to help, not judge. We will not push you to share before you are ready, but we do hope you know that we can support you no matter your past. I’ve had many clients wait to open up various concerns, such as sexual abuse, pornography addictions, affairs, and all kinds of regrets, embarrassments, or mistakes. In each situation, opening up and being vulnerable has ended up being a positive experience for those individuals. Most report wishing that they had shared earlier rather than holding in their pain and/or shame.
13. If you’re not sure about any aspect of your therapeutic relationship, just ask!
This ranges from if it’s okay that give your therapist a hug to discussing their personal life, or even how to respond when you see them in public (for confidentiality reasons, most therapists will not acknowledging you in public unless you initiate the contact).
14. Most of your therapeutic work takes place outside of therapy
You read that correctly. While therapy can be important, intense and meaningful, remember that it is only one hour a week. You must utilize the other 167 hours each week in order to facilitate true change and growth. Your therapist will help you find ways to accomplish this.
15. Therapy doesn’t work unless you do
As a graduate student, I remember being told this, but also believing that if I (as a therapist) worked with all my might, I could help a client regardless of their work. I was sorely disappointed to realize that that was not the case. The best, most specialized therapist in the world cannot help or change you if you are not willing to work. So remember, while showing up for therapy is important, that alone will not solve your problems.
We at Balance Health & Healing offer a free 15-minute consultation with a therapist to help determine 2 things: 1. if therapy is a good fit for you, and 2. if so, where a good place to start is. Follow this link to sign up for one now.