"Helping people who help people"

Therapy Is Scary

I feel so validated by this profile of a therapist:

During 35+ years of practice, I have learned that many people are self-conscious when contemplating beginning therapy. Therefore, I try to help the the client feel safe and comfortable, and openly acknowledge that his/her issues could be similar to ones that may have touched my life as well. I have found that if the client is comfortable during the first session, achievement of mutual therapeutic goals is optimized.

This is one of the reasons I am so passionate about helping therapists translate their experiences and personality to the web (where, for the foreseeable future, almost everyone goes to find a therapist.)  I’ve been a “therapy pusher” since I was … maybe in high school?  I had heavy things around me .. friends dealing with incest, suicide, rape, drug and alcoholism, parental abandonment, attachment issues, and more.  These folks were in a lot of stress but weren’t sure whether therapy would really help.  All I knew was I wasn’t able to really help (other than being a positive presence.)  And I knew the status quo wasn’t making them better.

These are a few things I’d love to see more therapists address for the 50% of the population who will eventually seek therapy…oh, and please don’t just shove these in a never-read “FAQ” page.  Put a few of the ones you like the most on your homepage with a “read more common questions” link to the page with all these questions.

  • “I’m super nervous about my first session.  Is this normal?  How can I relieve my anxiety about meeting you and beginning therapy?”
  • “What if we don’t connect in the first session?  I’m a conflict avoider so I know I’ll stick it out with you even if I don’t feel a connection.”
  • “I’m not sure who, if anyone, to tell.  Therapy is personal but it impacts some aspects of my life and I don’t necessarily want to get into it with certain people.”
  • “How on earth can I do therapy when I work long, unpredictable shifts?”
  • “I’m worried that even if you say you do ‘brief therapy’, we’ll open a can of worms and I’ll end up in therapy for life.  I can’t afford that and I don’t really want this to happen.”
  • “Does it matter if you are male, or female, or your age, or your degree?  If so, how does that impact our therapy relationship and how well therapy will go for me?”
  • “I know therapy is going to shake some things up.  Is there a better or worse time to start therapy based on other aspects going on in my life?  For example, if I’m training for a marathon, is therapy going to ruin my concentration?  Or if I’m starting a new career, will therapy help or hurt my ability to focus?”
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