We have a huge mental health issue in the United States, and the issue isn’t that people are mentally ill or have their issues to deal with. Everyone on the planet has something going on in their life that they need to talk about. Some issues are more serious or debilitating, so a professional needs to be consulted. But, there are so many hangups about seeking treatment or therapy, even telehealth counseling on the phone. Sometimes, the people who really need it either never seek help in the first place or feel uncomfortable because they have no idea what is supposed to happen, and leave after only a couple therapy sessions.
The three biggest problems people have at the therapists are shame, trust and not knowing what is supposed to happen.
Shame is the number one reason people do not seek the help that they need. They feel that if someone else knew what was going on with them or what their thoughts were, then they would be reviled and the other person would recoil in disgust. What you are feeling may be intense and intensely personal, but it is probably not all that uncommon. You feel that you are alone in your pain and your hurt and that no one else could possibly understand what you are going through.
The truth is that you are not alone and that there are plenty of people who are feeling the exact same thing you are feeling; they are wrestling with the same issues and confronting the same demons in their personal lives. You don’t have to start off the first session confronting your personal dragon. Instead, talk about minor things that you are having issues with and build up to you own climactic confrontation with your dragon or demon.
Not Knowing the Rules of Therapy
Another thing people who are unfamiliar with therapy have issues with is, what are the rules? What can you talk about? What kind of relationship can you have with your therapist? Can you curse? Can you break down and cry? Can you ask questions? Can you ask questions about your therapist’s personal life? What are the ground rules? Not knowing what is happening or what they should do make people uncomfortable at the therapist’s office. People also have a preconceived notion about what therapists are like from movies and television. Those characters are of course caricatures of real life people.
Therapists are skilled and well-trained professionals who care about you and the ethical treatment of your issues. You can ask any question you like in therapy. You can ask about your diagnosis, treatment, or comments that the therapist made to you. You can ask about fees, appointments or the waiting room. You may not always get the answer you want to hear but you should get one that makes sense and isn’t defensive in any way. Your therapist is there to help you tackle your emotional or mental struggles and support you in your path towards a healthy mind.
How do you trust a stranger with the most intense and painful experiences of your life? These things are nearly impossible to even discuss with friends or family, so how in the hell are you supposed to open up about these things to someone you barely know? Time and trust. It isn’t easy opening up that can of worms and letting them wriggle out into the light of day. If the trauma is significant enough, you may not even know why you are hurting or you may not remember details of the trauma because you bury it so deep. Some people just can’t come to grips with looking that hurt in the face and run away from it.
You go to your therapist and talk about small issues in your life. After some time and when you feel comfortable, then you can start to open up and confront the elephant in the room. It takes time and effort for you and the therapist to build up to a level of trust and honesty to be able to confront your dragon. But at some point, you will and your therapist will help you and give you the tools to slay it.