Kids don’t like going to the doctor. Even when their parents promise they’ll get a lollipop at the end. They’ll often do everything in their power to refuse or stall getting their temperature taken, their height measured, and (of course) a finger pricked or arm stabbed with a needle. They will cry and scream and try to run for dear life. As for the parents, they sigh and roll their eyes, all whilst doing their best to comfort their child and convince them to stay put.
While a parent’s frustration is warranted in this scenario, it’s important that we acknowledge a child’s nerves and other negative feelings about going to the doctor—because many of us experience these same nerves as adults. Paying a visit to the doctor can be anxiety-inducing—especially when it’s foreign territory, like a therapist’s office. Therapists aren’t what most of us think of in the traditional sense of healthcare professionals, but they are doctors. They specialize in psychology and mental health counseling, and they dedicate their lives to serving their diverse clientele. Still, some of us feel nervous and unsure about seeing a therapist and beginning the treatment that we need. A common reservation being: “Well, what if it doesn’t work?” The answer to this question, of course, is another question: What if it does? This probably isn’t enough to ease your worries or concerns. So, here are five tips that will help you find success on your counseling journey:
1) Don’t keep secrets from your counselor.
One key to success is being open with your counselor. And I mean, completely—yes, it makes a difference when you lie about the “little, insignificant” things, like how the fight between you and your partner unfolded this morning. You might not want to tell your counselor how you blew up on your girlfriend. But you need to disclose these details. Similarly, you might not want to tell your counselor about the big stuff sometimes either, like your bad habits—say, binge-drinking or overspending—but it’s so important that you do. Remember this: keeping secrets from your counselor will only sabotage your progress.
2) Understand that sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.
Therapy can be hard. I mean, it can be really hard. It often involves talking about tough subjects, revisiting the past, and confronting difficult emotions. Sometimes you might even leave a session feeling worse than you did at the start of it. But that’s okay. It’s normal—it’s an essential part of the process, of your therapy journey. Change rarely happens overnight, but it does happen. Just keep your eye on the prize and continue working on your progress.
3) Remember that your counselor is on your side.
Your counselor’s ultimate job and goal is to help you become a better you—whether that means breaking harmful habits like gambling or drinking, learning to communicate effectively with your partner, or managing harmful symptoms that come with serious mental illnesses such as depression. They are there to guide you and support you, and they’re also going to challenge you at times. It’s particularly important that you remember, no matter what, your counselor is on your side.
4) Trust the process.
There might be times when you feel like throwing in the towel. Or, there might be times where you feel like the job is done—I mean, you had nothing much to say today, mission accomplished, right? Not so fast. In both regards, you’ve got to trust the process. Think back on what we discussed earlier: it might get worse before it gets better, but you have to keep on pushing. In the latter case, when you feel like there’s nothing left to talk about, but your counselor insists there’s more work to do, listen to them. You might have a session or two where you have nothing much to say; however, you have to see the journey through to the end, and if your counselor says it’s not yet the end, trust that.
5) Acknowledge your time as valuable.
Counseling is your safe place. This is your time to focus solely on you… which might be difficult for some because they aren’t used to being the center of attention. But that’s what counseling or therapy is all about: its sole purpose being to serve you. While it might feel embarrassing or generally uncomfortable at first, you’ll soon get into the natural flow. And you’ll understand just how valuable your time in counseling is. Until you reach that point, trust me—believe that therapy is going to help you immensely.
To get started with a therapist or counselor today, reach out to Thriveworks. Schedule an appointment today by first finding a location near you, or book an online counseling session. Our providers possess the skills, training, and experience to help you—not to mention they want to help you live better and eventually thrive in life.