What to Know Before Starting Therapy

Written by Eric C., MA., PhD Candidate

Therapy is an underused tool. Therapy is not just for people who have mental illness; it is for people struggling with relationships, change in life, personal growth, parenting and more. Therapy is for so many things. Yet there remains this stigma about going to therapy. Many people are scared of going to therapy and perhaps if they knew what to expect from therapy it would be less frightening. Remember, therapy is not a hostage situation. You can stop anytime.

1. Therapy is confidential
Your therapist legally cannot tell anyone what you talk about in session. There are some exceptions to this rule such as child and elder abuse, suicidal ideation and homicidal ideation. However, those are the only things your therapist is allowed to legally break confidentiality for. You could tell your therapist you committed a serious crime and s/he couldn’t report you. Think of it like confession; it is a protected communication.

2. Therapy is helpful
Really, it is. Therapy changes people’s lives. It’s important to find the right therapist that you connect with and build a therapeutic relationship with. If you can find a good therapist, make that connection and actually put into work what you learn, you can change your life.

3. Therapy is not just “And how do you feel about that?”
There are many types of therapies and therapists, and it’s important that you find a therapist and style that fits you. Many therapists don’t follow specific therapies and instead draw from different theories to help their patients. You don’t just talk at them and listen to them respond with “and how do you feel about that?”

4. Therapy can be hard
Therapy can bring up tough emotions and feelings. It can bring up traumatic memories. It can get worse before it gets better. Trust the process. Trust your therapist. That’s why we go to therapy—to get all the bad stuff out that we have been avoiding or suppressing. Don’t be scared away from therapy by the stigma of attending therapy or because you think it might be difficult. Therapy is an incredibly powerful tool, no matter what issue you are facing.

5. You will build a relationship with your therapist
It’s impossible to see someone once a week and spill your heart, soul and deepest darkest secrets to them and not develop a relationship. You will develop a deep level of trust with your therapist. Your therapist becomes your safe place, but boundaries must be adhered to. Instead of resisting or trying to work with the wrong therapist, find a therapist you are able to build a therapeutic relationship with. You will find the process much more rewarding.

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7 responses to What to Know Before Starting Therapy

  1. Singledust says:

    Hi Eric, so good to read you as always, while I have been a little silent here I always come back to your words of wisdom and comfort, so you are in your vocation it seems, you heal with words when you can’t be there in person. Just adding my humble thoughts if I may – going to therapy sometimes labels us as crazy when actually it’s a place to talk to someone out of our circle of influence who won’t ridicule or laugh. Someone we can walk away from secure in the knowledge they have advised us not based on what they know “about” us but of what they know “of” us. Makes sense? Thank you for this lovely post and I hope more people can take courage from your words and advice. Be blessed in this coming year 2017 and I pray you scale higher mountains!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Rayne says:

    Hi, thanks for this. Too many people have misconceptions about starting therapists (I was one of them), but I came to such a desperate place that I knew I had to do it. I don’t regret it. You’ve actually given me an idea for a post on this topic, my own experiences. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  3. teensywriter says:

    As someone who has always been rather nervous/ scared when it comes to therapy, this does help a lot when making the decision of whether it would be worth it.

    Liked by 4 people

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