Starting therapy can be quite a terrifying experience for some. It can seem strange to think about opening up about so many things with a total stranger, and how will you be sure that you have a good therapist in front of you? Not like you can do a post on “Are you being served?” to see people’s perceptions – as therapy is such a private and personal thing that if you even could master the strength to make such a post, what works for one person will not necessarily work for another.
But if you’ve noticed a need to start therapy, and found someone who you could potentially work with, here are some tips to get you started:
- Take the whole time allotted to you – arrive early, use that time to catch your breath (and your thoughts!), that way you can have a more fulfilling session.
- Make it a part of your life – Use what you’re learning or becoming aware of in therapy in your daily life. Are you noticing that you tend to get defensive when someone questions you? Did you practice some techniques with your therapist to not become defensive? Then use them! That is the only way to really make sure you’re getting something out of therapy.
- Journal – Write, write and write some more! Forget the “dear diary” and jump straight to reflecting on how the session went, what you learnt, how you felt with the situation and also with your therapist. It’s a great way to monitor yourself as time goes by.
- What do you want? What do you feel? – If you feel stuck or confused, ask yourself these two questions. Remember your goal, and why you sought therapy in the first place.
- Try new things – the therapy will challenge you, push you out of your comfort zone… it’s difficult, but you’re there to improve something about yourself or your life, to feel better, so part of that is getting out of your comfortable and ‘safe’ space.
- Engage – feel free to go deeper in your sessions, feel safe to tell your therapist if a memory was triggered, this is a safe space for you now. Engage with the therapist, and engage with the work!
Therapy is an exciting journey and process, but it can only be as good as you let it be. Therapists do not perform miracles, so a lot of the work is actually done by you. You cannot cook a meal without placing ingredients into the pot – so feel safe to take out those ingredients, discuss the recipe with your therapist, place them in, and stir the pot. By the end, you’ll hopefully have a delicious meal!
Mel McElhatton holds a degree in Social Work from the University of Malta. With Willingness, Mel does life coaching and is one of the facilitators in the IRL – In Real Life team. They are also the producer of the radio show Niddiskutu s-Sess. They can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.