If you’ve never been to a counselor, you could easily have a hard time even trying to comprehend how a complete stranger is going to be able to help you in the first place. But you finally admit you aren’t happy. You’ve been doing life on your own for quite a while and you now aren’t happy with the results. It’s time to call in the pros. It’s no different than remodeling your house. A lot of times you can only go so far in the project and you hit a wall, beyond your expertise level and/or a point where it’s not going as planned. You can continue to struggle or add some “patches” with hopes to be able to continue to get by, or you can cover over the issue and hope it doesn’t resurface later. A better option is to bite the bullet and call in a professional and get life taken care of, once and for all.
Once you recognize you are “stuck” in a negative place and/or mindset, and decide you want to make a step towards getting “unstuck”, the next step is choosing help. I’m not elaborating about that here, but a great place to go to find a professional is www.PsychologyToday.com. EMDR Therapy is a wonderful option as type to pursue. It tends to get to the heart of the issue quite quickly. If you are a verbal or physical abuse victim, I strongly recommend you find someone that has the initials EMDR after their name, or offers that modality as a specialty.
Let’s jump ahead to having chosen someone and scheduled your first appointment. At your first session you will experience an “Intake” where you will fill out paperwork and answer a lot of questions. You can approach this as either going in to a friend’s house for a social visit, or like going to the Emergency Room of a hospital with a gaping wound. I have learned it’s best to expedite the whole process and picture it as if I am “rushing” in to the ER and need help NOW.
It is totally expected that at your first sessions, you just aren’t sure what to share. Not only that, but you aren’t sure how much to share either, but then we unfortunately end up holding back. Some of us have a fear of possibly shocking our new counselor with what we think, or have done, and at this first, and subsequent sessions want to “sell them” on what a great person we are. So sessions can easily end up becoming a “get to know each other” format and not going in to the depth of any issues. When we do this, we are either stalling and/or trying to surmise if they are “safe” enough with whom we can share our private self.
Keep in mind that scenario is the typical “dance” of how relationships work with our friends. We only share so much at a time to see if they are in agreement with us or if they can relate to what we are saying. If not, we they just stop sharing that compartment of our lives with them. Keep it in perspective that this counselor is someone you are paying, to offer a professional service. They are a professional and have heard it all. Holding back is not the best choice. You will not shock them. Although you will share possibly more with them than any ONE person in your entire life, they still are not acting in the capacity as your friend.
So let’s change the mindset here and approach your therapy sessions as you truly are: you have a major issue big enough for you consider sharing it with a stranger and give them your hard earned money. Don’t forget this. However, as you walk in to their office, at this exact moment you may not be in severe “pain” anymore. You may be feeling “ok”. This is where you need to remember back to the torment and tortured feelings that caused you to phone or email to make this very appointment. Bring that emotion to this meeting as if you walked in to an Emergency Room. In that setting you would end up exposing any area of pain without being asked or probed to do so. You would share all you know about how it happened, and any details about how the wound makes you feel and what your fears are if it is not fixed. And then you would step back and let the doctor lead. Then the best case scenario is that you would follow what they say needs done to get the wound fixed. In this same way, share the innermost wounds in your heart and mind with your counselor. Don’t hold back. This is not the time.
I believe if you can stay in the mindset that you are in an emergency situation and not trying to “sell yourself” to someone to get them to like you, you can keep your sessions moving quickly and get to your goals much faster. They can’t push you in your sessions, they can only gently nudge, and the rest is up to our own self. One must truly set the pace for their own growth. I’m simply suggesting that you be aware of this and do your best to “let it all hang out” in your sessions. Save your money and use your time wisely by deciding to be a person of full disclosure before you walk in to each session. You will be glad you did.