Updated: Apr 30, 2020
By: Latasha Baydar, M.A., Lmfta
Even before choosing to become a therapist I always had an appreciation for the healing that therapy can bring. And like a lot of my clients I went into counseling not knowing what to expect.
I get it…the thought of therapy can be scary!
Maybe you’ve given therapy a shot in the past and you didn’t have the best experience. Either way I want to give you my top 5 reasons why I’ve seen clients struggle with therapy and how you can be more successful.
1. Give it time.
Healing takes time!
Our lives, our character, our emotions, or beliefs are all influenced by the sum of our experiences. Negative thought patterns have had years to grow up and form deep roots in our hearts and our minds. The wounds of our traumas must be uncovered and given time to heal.
If we allow it therapy can become a mirror allowing us to see ourselves more clearly.
A lot of times with therapy things get worse before they get better. So, it’s normal to be frustrated, but give yourself and your therapist time to work through the counseling process.
If you still feel you are not getting anywhere it may be time to find a new therapist which brings me to my next point.
2. Do your research.
Therapy is a very personal experience and having a good therapeutic relationship is essential. During the session, you may find yourself sharing things that you have never spoken about to anyone.
There are a lot of great directories out there such as Psychology Today, Good Therapy, or Therapy for Black Girls.
Before starting therapy think of what you would like in a therapist, and what you want to get out of it. For example, maybe you want a therapist who shares the same ethnicity, culture, or language. Or maybe you need a counselor who is available in the evening to see you after work. Whatever it is you want to set yourself up for as much success as possible.
Directories offer a lot of information about the therapist, and can give you an idea of their overall vibe. In fact many therapists will offer a FREE CONSULTATION before starting therapy. Taking the extra time to read through the profiles of a few therapists in your area can help you make a better decision of who might be a good fit for you.
3. Be open to vulnerability.
During counseling, you want to be able to trust your therapist and feel that you can be open without the fear of rejection.
While it’s not expected that you walk into the first session and tell your deepest darkest secrets. However, if you’re hurting, worried, stressed, frustrated, whatever. Bring it into the sessions… this is your time.
During my sessions, I hope that my clients feel as though they can drop their burdens. That they can be open with me, and know that I’m still going to be there no matter what.
If you’re reading this and saying to yourself…
“It’s hard for me to be vulnerable.”
“I’ve never been good at being open, and I’m afraid of getting hurt.”
Then start there… say that. Wherever you are in your journey take a chance, a small step is still a step.
4. Have clear goals and direction.
It’s hard to get somewhere when you don’t know where you're going. Without a plan or with complex issues it can be easy to bounce around and feel like you never really progressed in any one area. This is something to work on with your therapist.
Consider what is that you want to get out of therapy?
During this process, you and your therapist should have clear achievable goals and a plan of how to get there. Don’t be discouraged if these answers don’t come easy to you.
Sometimes clients come in and they don’t know what they want, they just know they want it to be different and that is OKAY.
As I said before start wherever you are and give yourself grace for the process….
Eventually, you will get there.
5. Start sooner rather than later.
Going to therapy can seem like another thing added to a never-ending to-do list. You put it off promising to do it later or you say “I can’t afford it right now.” I want to encourage you not to let these things stop you from investing in yourself. All you have is now. Why continue to live in depression, anxiety, fear, or dysfunctional relationships longer than you have to.
There are so many options for therapy right now.
Have a limited schedule? Then try online therapy where you can do therapy where you are.
Worried about the cost? Many therapists have a sliding scale or scholarship options available. Sites like Open Path connect you with therapists who have agreed to offer therapy at a reduced rate.
Maybe the thought of face to face therapy is too much right now... did you know there are instant message or email options for therapy?
We have more ways than ever to connect... don’t let anything stop you from going after your health and wellness.
Latasha Baydar, M.A., LMFTA is a licensed marriage and family therapist associate at Agape Christian Counseling in Huntersville, North Carolina.