Heartbreaking stories of people who tried one counselor and walked away feeling even more hopeless abound. If I can accomplish one thing today, I'd like to help align your expectations to alleviate future disillusionment. The process of finding the right therapist is a bit more like dating than a marriage; it may take several tries before you find a good fit with whom you want to commit and share your journey. Your intuition is usually a reliable guide in this department, and it should not take more than a session or two for you to determine if the right “chemistry” is present for you to proceed together.
Let's face it, no one likes pain. A therapist is going to invite you to lean into the pain, to inspect it until you discover where it comes from, why it’s there, and what to do with it. Therapy is not for the faint of heart! You will be asked to struggle through it, so it's integral that you find someone with whom you can feel comfortable being uncomfortable.
First sessions are primarily about establishing a connection, clarifying goals, and gathering/dispensing information. Those who expect the entire narrative of their life to be transformed in one session will likely walk away disappointed. While perhaps not life-altering, initial sessions do have therapeutic value. The importance of being heard and validated should not be underestimated. Just the act of beginning a potentially life-altering process can offer great relief. Mere attendance is a victory in itself.
Many times during a first session, clients feel nervous, uncertain, and self-aware. In this state, it is not uncommon to find oneself at a loss for words, to cry (no worries…we keep an ample supply of Kleenex!), and to speak at an accelerated rate/pitch. Many times clients comment “I know this sounds stupid” or ask “Am I crazy!?” The irony of these remarks is that there is something terribly sound-minded and healthy about getting help when you need it. Going to therapy is just the opposite of stupid or crazy. While it can be intimidating to make yourself vulnerable to someone else, many are surprised by how comfortable they feel by the close of the first session.
Every therapist has a different feel and their own unique approach. If your first attempt is not a success, it is a counselor’s ethical duty to provide you a good referral to someone else. So if you have something that's persistently bothering you, what’s the harm? …Let’s Talk!