Therapists are often depicted as elusive and ‘mysterious’ beings. Many individuals initially feel intimidated to start therapy, especially if they have never tried it before. In reality, therapists are just like you! We struggle with similar problems and circumstances, but we have years of extensive training to help us understand human thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and how it impacts your particular situation. Here is a list of things that we wish our clients knew about us:
1.We do not judge
Everyone is afraid of being judged, especially by a therapist. Sometimes it takes weeks or even months to feel completely comfortable with your therapist. That is completely normal. We understand how hard it is to open up and share the parts of you that are hurt, confused, or lost. It is expected that we will learn things about you that other people may never know, and we hold that secret and confidential. We are trained to treat everyone with dignity and respect and to honor their unique traits and circumstances. If you get the sense that your therapist is judging you, it may be a good idea to consider seeking therapy with someone else.
2.We do not have the answers
If we had the answers, therapy would be very short and non existent. The fact is, we don’t have special powers that allow us to see inside you. It takes time, commitment, and it is ultimately a process. Our training is specifically geared towards helping you find the solutions to your problems, and the answer is different for everyone.
3.We do not give advice
Surprisingly, we are trained to NOT give advice. Anyone can give advice (parents, friends, acquaintances), which is partially why we don’t do it. We may tell you to meditate, utilize coping skills, or take deep breaths, but those are considered evidence-based interventions. We are held to a strict code of ethics that encourages us to only use techniques and interventions that are backed by research and empirical findings.
4.You don’t have to have a mental illness to go to therapy
You don’t have to be considered mentally ill to see a therapist. Some individuals just need someone to talk to, or need help navigating a specific challenge that they are facing. Life is hard, and occasionally you need extra guidance to facilitate the struggles. Going to therapy doesn’t mean that you are crazy or that something is wrong with you.
5.You have to participate in order to see change
It is a common misconception that you can just ‘go to therapy’ and get better. Therapists are facilitators of change and growth; we cannot force you or magically make you better. True growth requires effort on your part. It means following through with treatment recommendations, trying out interventions, and exploring difficult aspects of your life. It is hard work but it is worth the effort.
6.We deeply care
An effective therapeutic alliance is built upon connection, unconditional positive regard and empathy. Because those are some of the building blocks of a therapeutic relationship, it is only natural that therapist likely cares about you as a person. We laugh with you, feel angry for you, and sometimes even cry with you. Therapists are human too, and we tend to care about those who come through our office. Each individual provides a different insight and glimpse into the human existence; it is impossible to not feel care and concern towards you. Just like we help you to change, you indirectly change us as well. It is the best part of this profession: we have the incredible honor to witness incredible growth and resilience from the individuals that we work with.