Recently, I wrote a series of blog posts about MBT, the current therapy course which I am in the middle of. Most of those posts were very positive but I wanted to add something about potential difficulties that I faced (and which others might) when starting therapy.
All these people have it way worse than me, I shouldn’t be here.
This was a common thought shared by various group members in our therapy sessions. When people are sharing the darkest things that have happened to them, there’s bound to be some events which seem particularly horrific to you. I often felt like I was a fraud, I had no right to be there because I had not had certain traumatic experiences.
How do you stop feeling like this? It gets easier over time. What you need to remember is that although we all have different experiences, you are likely to find similarities with people in your therapy group. You will probably all, for example, share similar coping mechanisms for emotional distress. You cannot judge yourself for how you feel just because your experiences are different, we all have varied levels of tolerance to events. You deserve the support in therapy and your feelings are valid.
I don’t know what to talk about, where do I start?
I had a lot of trouble with this when I first started therapy. It felt like I had nothing to talk about if I wasn’t really unwell. However, I soon learnt that even things which did not seem like a big deal such as handling a situation at work, often said a lot about how I am and how I cope with things in a more general way. Small stuff is just as important to talk about because they might bring up larger things. Coming up with things to talk about gets easier, I promise. And therapists are there to guide you, explain any difficulties you come across. Writing things down beforehand helps as well. I wrote a long list of things I wanted to address whilst in therapy and will look back at that every now and again for ideas.
What if I don’t like my therapist?
It happens. You need to be open about this. If there is something specific that you can pinpoint that makes you dislike your therapist then talk it through with them. It might be something which can be resolved through talking. However, it is also important to know that you have a right to request a different therapist if you ever feel as though the poor relationship with them will be detrimental to your therapy.
I still feel like shit, this is not working.
Consider how long you have been attending therapy sessions and discuss your progress as openly as possible. It could be the case that you are not noticing your progress. But, it may be that other things in your life are stopping you from giving your all to therapy. Talk through this. Never be afraid to speak up if you think the therapy is not working for you, changes can be made, alternatives can be offered, do not suffer through it.
Therapy is exhausting, I can’t do this.
Yes, therapy is exhausting. It will take so much out of you emotionally and nothing can quite prepare you for that. You really need to commit to therapy and if it feels like the wrong time, take a step back and try again another time. Personally, I have had to change my work availability and plan a lot of life around therapy sessions because I know I’m usually too tired after a session to do anything else. It is okay to feel drained, allow yourself time to rest.
And just some general advice:
- Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t talk much for the first few sessions – it’s normal to struggle with this at first.
- Never let your concerns about the therapy/therapist go unheard, you have a right to access the appropriate therapy with a good therapist.
- Remind yourself that just going to therapy is a big step in the right direction.
- It might not be the right time for you to access therapy just yet, that is okay. You need to want it if it is going to be beneficial.
Therapy is difficult, talking about emotional stuff is draining and painful. But, it can really help to change your life for the better. Whatever worries you might have about starting or during therapy, know that others have had the same thoughts and got through it. There’s no reason you cannot do this too.