By Nancy Virden (c)2021
It was shocking. Unnerving. I learned quickly what so few of us expect; therapy can make us feel worse before we feel better.
Well, at the very beginning, when the first appointment has been set, one may feel relief. Knowing help is on the way can lift a burden. However, when it comes time to face all those ugly and desperate issues we have tried to manage or avoid, pain may rise up.
Honest self-awareness is uncomfortable. So is change. Repeating, or expressing for the first time one’s story, is hard. Trust is difficult. Then the mother-of-all-slaps-in-the-face comes when you realize you have opened yourself to such vulnerability and the therapist’s hour is up. Now what?
Therapy can be tough.
Our Emotional Preparation
Number one, be spiritually equipped and seek a therapist with like mind. See Preparing for Therapy: Spiritual Readiness. Look for licensure, and experience. If possible, seek recommendations from people you trust.
Know why you are going. Before attending the first few sessions, ask yourself what you hope to get out of this relationship with a therapist. If you need someone to listen, be honest about that. If you want a professional to take your side in a disagreement, do not hide that fact. If you are desperate and need someone to relieve your pain, say it. Perhaps you are anxious about an upcoming event. Let the therapist know.
Prepare to be fearless in your honesty. This is not that you have all the facts and truth-ducks in a row. Fearless honesty means sharing what is actually happening and how you are thinking and feeling instead of lying or playing cover-up for the sake of pride.
Imagine being in a shopping venue, someone hands you a million dollars and your choice is to spend it or throw it away. Investing in therapy can be like that. Will you take advantage of what is offered, or squander it on deceit and self-protection?
Be determined to do the work. Go to your sessions with introspection in mind. No therapist worth his license is going to tell you what to do; you have to figure it out under their expert guidance. Ask yourself, what kind of person do I want to be? What do I want life to be like? What do I want?
Unless you go with a sense of responsibility for your own healing, you will not fully achieve your goal. Yes, a therapist will listen; to grow beyond that need takes time. Will you consider a new perspective? Your therapist may not “take your side” in your disagreement. Desperate? Latch on to the hope that while healing may not come quickly and therapy can raise up painful issues, it will result in your greater satisfaction emotionally and otherwise.
Today’s Helpful Word
Psalm 119: 105, 130 ESV
Your [God’s] word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path…The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.
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Always the Fight Ministries (ATFM) has been displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse since 2012. Nancy is the founder and voice of ATFM and openly shares her emotional resurrection from despair.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. In the EU call 112. (For other international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!
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