By: Grace Gufler
Therapy is an experience that is indescribable and not always what you expect it to be. This blog post will touch on some of the more frustrating aspects of therapy and the importance of trusting in the process.
- Your therapist will not give you advice: this is one of the most common misconceptions of therapy. Clients often come in seeking advice, answers and a detailed road map to happiness. To be honest, my job would be a lot easier if it was this straight forward. It would also be a lot less effective. Your therapist does not have the answers for you. A therapist is someone who provides gentle guidance, points out patterns and inconsistencies and empowers you to find the answers for yourself. Remember, you are the expert of your own life and the only one who knows what is best for you.
- Therapy is like learning to walk again: the analogy that I always use with my clients is this: imagine that you went to a physical therapist and they have informed you that the way you have been walking is wrong and needs to change. Imagine how difficult that would be. Walking is something you do mindlessly and takes little effort. To learn to walk a new way, you will need to spend most of your day actively attending to the way you walk. Simple actions, such as walking from your fridge to your couch, now takes an enormous amount of mental energy. The process of therapy is equivalent to training yourself to walk a different way. It will take time to make the changes and growth you desire. For this reason, the therapeutic process can feel really frustrating and requires patience. Celebrate your small achievements and discuss the frustrations you are feeling with your therapist.
- Being Challenged: your therapist is going to challenge you; it is not fun but it is necessary to achieve your goals. A part of therapy is changing the cognitive and behavioral patterns that you have been engaging in for most of your life. Your therapist will challenge you in order to increase your awareness of the patterns and beliefs systems you have unconsciously created. Change can happen once you are able to recognize when these patterns and beliefs systems occur.
- Small Steps: in the beginning of therapy, it is very important that you recognize the small steps. Change occurs slowly and it is normal to feel frustrated and impatient during this process. These small steps that you are accomplishing are not as small as they appear because without them, further change cannot happen. Think of the beginning of therapy as laying the foundation of a house. It is tedious, slow, boring and laborious work. Everyone wants to get to the fun part about building a home: the decorating. Decorating is similar to the goals you have set for therapy, but to reach these goals you first need to have a foundation.
I hope this blog post is helpful to anyone who is thinking about beginning therapy or is already doing so. Therapy can be key to achieving your goals and living the life you dream of but it is not an easy process. I want to recognize the frustrations of therapy so that you are not surprised when they occur. Growth and change is not an easy process but the end result is worth the hard work.