When I decided to go to therapy I didn’t know what I was going to find or what exactly therapists were for. I had been thinking for a while that I needed it, but it took me a long time to take the step. A relative recommended a well-known professional and made it easier for me to find therapy, but before my first session, I still had many doubts. What do I have to do in therapy? Am I the one who begins to talk about the problem or are they the ones who ask? How would the process work? How long would it take to improve? What would happen if I found it difficult to open up and gain confidence?
That’s why I’ve decided to write down the answers to all those questions we ask ourselves before starting psychological therapy. This is what I would have liked to read before my first day in therapy and understand what the roles of the therapists are in everyday life.
The errors of therapy
#1.- Taking the step of going to a therapist is fundamental, but the work is yet to be done. Therapists aim to improve emotional well-being and achieve guidelines and strategies to manage emotions as effectively as possible. However, this process involves openness and challenges, as they go through and analyze painful situations. Knowing what a therapist is is the starting point.
#2.- In therapy, there is not a decisive point in which one “clicks”. Throughout the sessions, you find yourself better and learn more adaptive ways of acting and thinking than the ones you used before, but there is not a key moment in which you understand everything and the miraculous solution appears explaining what’s happening to you. Therapists are not magicians or fortune-tellers.
#3.- The therapist won’t tell you what to do. The conversations with your therapist will help you to study more in detail the situations that you live or to raise realistically those that are going to happen but do not expect to obtain concrete guidelines for action. It won’t give you solutions, but it will guide you so that you can reach them on your own.
#4.- Your therapist will not read your mind or prescribe medication. These are two things that are not always clear. The therapy is based on an evaluation work and a deep diagnostic interview, not on divination techniques. On the other hand, if the symptoms presented alert of a major problem, a psychiatrist would determine whether or not pharmacological treatment is necessary.
#5.- Therapy doesn’t have to last for the rest of your life. You need to know that at the beginning of the process your therapist will help you set goals. This allows you to analyze the progress and know if you are ready to leave therapy, as the goals have been met.
#6.- Your best friend can’t help you the same way. Having friends you trust to tell your problems is a very positive thing, but the repertoire of “phrases for friends” soon runs out and is not comparable to the help of a professional. Among other things, that support is not enough because objectivity is not the same and the advice comes from a different base. In this article, you can read what online therapies are and how they differ from conversations between friends.
#7.- Don’t waste time deciding whether or not you believe in psychology. Psychology is a science, therapists are trained in the study of human behaviour and mental and emotional processes are studied following a scientific method. For your therapist to know how you can act in a certain situation is not magic, it is knowledge of behaviour and experience in establishing hypotheses about behaviour.
#8.- There is no single way to carry out therapy. The way of performing the therapy is unique in each therapist, although it is true that common characteristics are found in the way of functioning within the same orientation. What is clear is that the image of the patient lying on the couch does not correspond to the way of intervening in most cases.
#9.- The best cure is NOT time. It is possible that if you feel bad in your mood or if you are not able to maintain your rhythm of life adequately, the advice of “time heals everything” will only worsen your condition. Time is a fundamental factor in the progress of therapy, but on its own and without help it can chronicle the situation.
#10.- Going to a psychotherapist is not a sign of weakness or madness, but quite the opposite. You don’t have to be crazy to go to a therapist. Being able to analyze that you need external support to get a better life is an act that expresses the opposite of fragility.
#11.- Telling your therapist about problems does not imply that they are solved. Just because you open up and tell your fears, your worries or your problems doesn’t mean they will be solved. But it is the first step in treatment to gain control over those situations that make your life more difficult. It is a long-distance race, in which your trainer is your therapist but the effort is always yours.
Therapists: trained to help you
One of the strongest doubts before starting a psychological therapy is if it is going to be useful for something if it is going to make me feel better. Numerous studies have shown the effectiveness of going to a therapist, among them, the one carried out on a large scale by Consumer Reports in the USA, where 54% of patients consider that the therapy has helped them a lot and 36% that it has helped them something. You can read here how online psychology can help you.
The therapist can bring you emotional benefits that last over time. The course of this process and the success obtained will depend on specific factors of the patient and the therapist. Don’t let the uncertainty and initial fears lead you not to face the situation, and rely on psychological help to recover an adequate level of functioning.
If you want to improve your level of well-being, in TherapyChat we can help you. We are international leaders in online psychology and we have the right therapist for you.