Going to therapy is scary. I mean, you literally go to a stranger’s room that you’ve never been in before, answer personal questions and share intimate details of your inner world. Who came up with this idea?! I’m not going to lie, I even get nervous going to therapy and I’m a therapist! It’s vulnerable. It takes guts. It’s hard work. I’ve been on both sides of the coin; the client’s side and the therapist’s side. Being the client is WAY different. In my opinion, it’s harder. I mean, you
want me to be vulnerable??! UGH. I often hear my clients say things like, “you must think I’m……” or, “you’re going to think I’m crazy, but……” or, “are you analyzing me right now?” These comments and questions tell me that they are feeling vulnerable, are really hoping I’m not judging them and wanting to believe that it’s safe to be who they are; even if aspects of their lives aren’t healthy yet.
I would love for you to know what we are really thinking when you come in the room and maybe even let you in on what we aren’t thinking, too. It may just put your mind at ease about going to see a therapist for the first time.
WHAT WE ARE THINKING
We really want you to be comfortable- As much as we can, we want you to walk in the room and feel at ease; feel safe and settled. We know this is tough; we feel that for you. That’s why we put blankets, candles, comfy pillows, plants, cozy chairs and soft lighting in the room. So, you can feel like you are welcome. We are hoping this is a place you can breathe a sigh a relief every time you walk in.
We want you to feel a connection with us – We understand that we are literally strangers to you and that we’ve given you no reason to trust us yet. We get that trust and connection needs to be earned and we don’t want you to feel unsafe with us. We hope to put you at ease by listening carefully and attentively to your story. We try to accurately and compassionately read what messages your body language is sending us. We do thorough assessments to make sure
we get the whole picture and we aren’t missing anything. We hope, after getting to know us a little bit, you can trust we have your back and your best interest in mind. We sometimes worry about you- We work hard at having a good work/life balance. However, sometimes when you are really struggling, when you have pain that feels enormous, we feel that too. We sometimes think about you outside of session and strategize better tools, keys and resources to help you move forward. We can’t help it; we are human too and we care about you.
We really want you to be ok.
We are cheering you on- We want you to win at life; to succeed, to be happy and healthy. We want you to feel powerful and free. That’s why we sometimes challenge, push and coach your butt off; because we believe in you and see over the hill of struggle that you may not have seen yet. We are for you!
WHAT WE AREN’T THINKING
We are not internally rolling our eyes at your not-so-sunny aspects- Friend, we have ALL got hang-ups, attitude issues, painful past learning, distorted thinking, etc, etc, etc. However you want to define that, don’t think we are exempt from that. We are committed to working on our own stuff. It keeps us humble and empathetic in the therapy room. We aren’t
sitting and judging you as you work through your stuff or wishing you WOULD JUST GET OVER IT ALREADY. Nope. No eye rolls here, friend.
We aren’t secretly analyzing you and thinking you are crazy – I’ve had so many people ask me if I’m doing this both inside and outside of the therapy room, that I figured I better just put it out there. No, we don’t think you are crazy. We think you are brave, strong, a survivor, fierce, powerful, honest and so darn beautiful. Don’t you think for a second we are judging your struggles as weakness or a flawed brain. You are a masterpiece; just as you are, right now. We see you, friend.
We aren’t counting the minutes till session is done – I often hear this question in session, “am I talking too much?” or “is that ok that I said that?” I think sometimes you might worry that you are too much, or that if you are honest about where you are at or what you are thinking we might be shocked or disgusted by it. Friend, we have heard it all. Trust me, your stuff is safe and sound with us. We are not in a hurry to get you out of the room; we aren’t secretly eyeing the clock and anticipating the moment you will leave. The hour (or so) that you spend with us is sacred and is reserved for you; every aspect of you. Get comfy and be at peace.
As you consider therapy, or as you keep pushing through therapy with hopes of a healthier future, I sure hope this helps. Like I said, therapy is scary. We get it. Remember, we are for you. Tribe is everything. Maybe you would consider a therapist as a member of your tribe.
Love and peace,
Jenn Banas is a Registered Professional Counsellor and Certified Clinical Trauma Professional with the International Association of Trauma Professionals. Jenn is working towards becoming a Clinical Traumatologist and makes herself available on our community forums under the Ask a Counsellor thread in each mental health topic.