What to Expect in Therapy: Part One (Continued)
By Alissa Klugh, MS, LPC
First, I want to thank you for your return to my blogs on what to expect in therapy. It may seen overwhelming to obtain all of this information, but so many people aren't sure what is going to happen throughout the process of therapy, and we want to arm you with an idea of what might occur. As I mentioned in my previous blog, everyone's experience is different and every therapist varies in their practices, but overall, you'll find a lot of this holds true in treatment.
Now, onto numbers 6-10...(oh, and this website builder won't let me number these differently, so technically it's a second number 1-5, so please forgive me on that one!) If you missed the first part, you can check it out, here, if not, read on!
- Discomfort: Expect to feel uncomfortable throughout your therapeutic process. Therapy isn't exactly meant to be "fun." It may have its moments where it is enjoyable, but keep in mind that what you're working through is probably fairly difficult for you to talk about, and even harder for your to process. Your therapist will likely be asking you questions about what's currently happening, or what has happened in the past. And guess what? Your answers may not feel that great to share and/or admit to someone else, but remember, you're there to work through it. Let your therapist know when you're feeling uncomfortable so that they can wade through that with you. Very little good ever came out of therapy that was "fun and easy." You're meant to feel "better" after a process (sometimes a long one) of sorting through the yuck. I know it can suck, but chances are... you'll start to feel more like yourself every day, if you're putting in the proper efforts for change.
- Communication: Alright, so I know you're probably sick of me going on about being open by now, right? Well, I know, even I'm tired of saying it, but honestly, YOU HAVE TO BE OPEN AND HONEST. If you are not either/both of these things, you're not going to get the progress you want and deserve. Please don't expect to come into therapy and just sit there, quietly, or just answer with one-word answers. This is hardly therapy. I understand that the awkward and uncomfortable feelings of working through challenges could be present, but silence is not your friend, here. Share. Ask questions. Give information. Remember - you are the expert on you.
- Understanding: After meeting with your therapist on a few different occasions, you should start to feel a sense of being understood by them. Your therapist may ask you for clarification on information gleaned from what you provide. If they're off, inform them. This is the only way that they're going to be able to get on the same page as you regarding their understanding of you.
- Time: Therapy takes time. Healing takes time. Progress takes time. Some people are in therapy for years. Some are in for a few months. This is different for everyone because everyone is different. It's not a race. I know you "just want to feel better," and you know what? We WANT that for you. But wanting to feel better and not giving yourself the time to heal isn't going to give you the progress that you deserve. If you think that it's taking you a long time to get to where you're going, share that with your therapist. You never know when you may need to reroute your course!
- Growth: Over time, you'll begin to obtain a feeling of overall growth. This looks different for each person, but having a sense of accomplishment in working toward your goals is quite normal. Growth could be having a better handle on how you manage your triggers, improving your emotional responses, increasing your awareness of your behaviors and how they affect yourself and others, having better conversations/communication with others, changes in your relationships, and so on. Oh, and remember: sometimes growth is hard.
There are an incredible amount of things that I could share with you regarding the topic of what to expect in therapy. The truth is, everyone's experience is different. Other therapists may view things from an opposing perspective, and that's okay. The information I've provided you is some basics on what to expect in therapy. It's up to you to make your own judgements about your experience of therapy.
Stay tuned for a continuation of what to expect in therapy in my next blog post: What to Expect in Therapy: Part Two. The next portion will cover much of confidentiality and privacy to help you better understand what is expected of therapists and clients in treatment.