If you’re going to therapy for the first time then the prospect of sitting in front of a total stranger talking about difficult stuff is bound to be a scary one.
So how do you “do” therapy? Here’s a few pointers from my perspective as a therapist and also as a bloke who’s spent years in therapy himself.
First time in therapy? Relax, you’re OK
First off understand that you’re not a freak and you are not broken. There’s nothing wrong with coming to therapy. It’s a brave and courageous thing to do.
If you broke your leg you would go to the hospital and let the professionals take care of it. You wouldn’t put it off and hope it goes away.
Similarly, if you are finding life difficult then going to a therapist or counsellor makes sense. They are trained to deal with this stuff. You are not weak or stupid for seeking help – in fact the opposite is true. Taking action takes balls.
You’re not going to shock me
It doesn’t matter what you bring, I’ve probably heard something similar before or may even of experienced it myself. Human beings are interesting creatures and pretty much everything we do makes sense on some level.
That’s not to say that I will necessarily agree with your behaviour, but I won’t judge you and I will help you explore if your behaviour is moving you towards having a rich, fulfilling life.
Take your time
You can take your time with telling me about yourself. There is no expectation that you talk about your most private, difficult thoughts, feelings and experiences in the first few sessions. Do it when you are ready.
Taking responsibility for yourself and keeping yourself safe is important whilst the relationship between us grows.
Take part – It’s your therapy
Both of us will work together to move you towards what’s important. If you don’t work then there’s not much I can do.
If you come, tell me what you would like to be different in your life and then just sit back and stare at me I can’t help you – I can’t read minds and I don’t have a magic wand.
Those that get the most out of therapy are the people who get involved and are willing to work.
Give it time
Going to therapy is a commitment both in time and money. It will take time for things to change.
If this is the case then why would it take a couple of hours with a therapist to fix?
This is not to say that living your life differently has to take years either. Research shows that the average length of time it takes for change to happen is twelve sessions.
We are all different and for some this will be nowhere near long enough and for others it may take even less – depends what you’re bringing into therapy.
Make a commitment to at least six sessions before we evaluate whether things are going in the direction you want them to.
Turn up regularly
Weekly therapy works best. Spreading therapy out slows things down considerably, especially in the initial sessions as the relationship between therapist and client builds.
Make a commitment. You are worth the time and money it takes.
Equally, make appointments and keep them. This is for you. Take your therapy, your therapist and yourself seriously.
An amazing experience
I love being in therapy. I find it an amazing, fascinating experience and I enjoy it immensely. Therapy has changed my life. It’s through having therapy that I decided that I wanted to be a therapist.
Sometimes therapy is not easy. Sometimes it may stir up feelings, thoughts, memories that are challenging.
Sometimes it’s a bit like having to wade through a swap in order to get to the beautiful mountain on the other side. It’s worth it.
Want to work with me?
If you are interested in working with me, either as an individual or with your partner for couples therapy simply use the contact form here or ring me on 07966 390857.
My therapy practice in Wilmslow is on Water Lane above Swinton insurance. I work daytimes and some evenings.
Read the book
The Gift Of Therapy: An open letter to a new generation of therapists and their patients: Reflections on Being a Therapist is a great book on what it is to be a therapist and a client in therapy. Irvin Yalom is easy to read and a master psychotherapist.