When I first meet with a client to begin a new therapeutic relationship there are a few thing we do first. There’s the paperwork, of course, which spells out the roles and responsibilities of myself as the counselor and him or her as the client. I then talk a little bit about how I work with clients, my approach to therapy, and check-in to make sure this is a fit for the client’s needs. After that, and probably most important, I talk about the risks of engaging in therapy. Now I know this might sound odd, as therapy is designed to improve the mental health and overall quality of people’s lives. This is exactly why it’s so important to discuss the risks and challenges of therapy
When people make the often heart-wrenching decision to come and see me, it is often as a last resort. They have tried, unsuccessfully, to make the desired changes in their lives. Because of this, some clients may believe I have the ability to magically fix the problems they are facing. I unfortunately have not been gifted with that power. What I do offer is a hand to help support and guide my clients through their healing process. In other words, it is up to the client to do the work in order to get what they want. While the work required can be incredibly challenging, it is not impossible.
When you make a decision to enter into a therapeutic relationship, you are making an agreement to be honest about your experiences, your relationships, and how you are engaging with the world. You are taking time to think about and practice improving your life in between our sessions. You are making a commitment to change the way that you engage in relationships with those in your community. You are practicing how to prioritize your needs so that you are no longer putting yourself last. You understand that the work we do in the room will change the dynamics in the relationships with those you have outside of the room in powerful ways.
This is the practice of therapy. You are taking ownership of the direction of your life. This practice is challenging, but worth it. If you have been thinking about seeking professional support to help you heal from emotional wounds and improve the quality of your life, don’t wait.