When I work with kids, they often want to know what other kids play with in my office, what other kids talk about or if they do or say the same things. There is a natural desire to compare yourself to others to see am I better off than them or worse than them? Are the things I talk about and say to my therapist normal? What do other people do when then come in here? If you’ve never been to therapy before it can be an intimidating process. I wanted to share a few things that I see and notice to either help you feel comfortable starting therapy or answer some of those questions that everyone has and is too polite or afraid to ask!
First thing first: everybody has stuff. Everybody’s stuff has different weight, magnitude, and impact on their life. Not only does everybody have stuff no one is comparing. All of us have broken hearts and most of the time we can’t fix them on our own. Sometimes, there are miracles, and a lifetime of pain vanishes instantly. Most of the time it seems like we need each other to fix these deep and broken places. It’s very normal to need someone else’s help to heal from your stuff.
Your therapist isn’t comparing you to anyone else or feeling like your stuff is too small to be in their office. On many occasions people tell me their problems are too small or that they feel like their stuff isn’t “enough to need therapy”. The amount and type of hurt in your life is not too big or too small to work on.
Next, some people get better, some people don’t. The difference I’ve noticed is in their openness and approach. I would sum it all up in willingness. Part of that willingness is a willingness to hear the truth, to be confronted, to trust someone, to change, to sit with hard feelings, to go “there”. Those who are truly willing do get better. This is not to say that getting better is easy and without work. When you are willing you have access to someone else’s thoughts, training, expertise, experience, compassion, hope and story. When you are unwilling you only have yourself and the extent you are willing to let other perspectives in. You can be unwilling and make progress but the truly willing get the most freedom and healing.
Talking about things in and of itself if very helpful to relieve stress and burdens. The difference between temporary feeling better and true deep healing is willingness. Your therapist can’t push past where you let them go. The truly willing go the deepest and heal the most.
Finally, your therapist is an imperfect person with stuff just like you. The best therapists also have been or are in therapy just like you. If your therapist got something not quite right or made you upset or frustrated tell them! It is always better to have a conversation together than to keep these things to yourself. Therapy works when both people can work things out in a productive way and create a positive working relationship.
Therapy can be a life changing process that can help you shift longstanding emotional pain or trauma. Don’t be afraid to start counseling and reach out for help. Everybody has stuff and healing is possible!