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6 things to know before entering the therapy room

Therapy has the power to transform lives, unlocking profound realisations and guiding individuals on a path of self-discovery. But there is a catch! If you are new to therapy, you never know what to expect and how to navigate this unfamiliar terrain.

To say that therapy has changed lives would be an understatement. Having a private space to talk honestly about emotions can uncover significant realisations and painful truths that might not have been accessible otherwise. Some people regret not starting therapy sooner, but finding therapy when you are ready for the inner work is crucial.

Taking the leap from curiosity to booking your first therapy appointment is a big step into the unknown. It involves embracing emotional vulnerability. While each person's therapy experience is unique, there are common struggles that many people encounter, especially in the early days. So, here are six things to know about therapy that could help you on your journey.

1. One bad experience doesn't define therapy's potential for you:

Finding the right therapist is akin to navigating the world of online dating. You explore numerous profiles, create a shortlist of potential matches, and hope to find "the one." However, sometimes that initial connection just isn't there. It's important to remember that a single negative therapy experience does not determine the overall success of therapy for you. Return to your shortlist and continue exploring until you find a therapist with whom you feel comfortable and connected.

Like any relationship, some people simply vibe better with certain individuals. If the connection isn't there, it's likely not the right fit.

2. Patience and embracing tangents:

Sharing emotions can be intimidating, especially with someone you don't know well. It's crucial to honour your readiness and avoid discussing topics before you feel comfortable doing so. Therapy allows for tangents and unexpected directions. For instance, you may initially seek therapy to manage work-related stress but later find yourself wanting to explore past relationships. Trust your intuition and discuss what's on your mind in the moment. Life cannot always be neatly compartmentalised and tackled systematically.

3. Flexibility in session frequency:

Unless therapy is provided through the government health services, health insurance, or your employer, the financial aspect of seeking therapy can be challenging. Private therapy fees can accumulate quickly, particularly with weekly appointments. It is not uncommon for people who attend weekly sessions to find the cost, combined with the emotional recovery time needed after each session, becomes overwhelming. It's essential to remember that therapy is your treatment, and you can work with your therapist to make it meet your specific needs. Consider suggesting alternative frequencies, such as fortnightly or monthly sessions, which might be more effective in the long run. Don't hesitate to discuss alternative frequencies with your therapist, and if you feel nervous, consider broaching the topic via email.

4. Acknowledging the emotional hangover:

Engaging in therapy involves delving into topics that can increase stress levels, leading to both physical and mental exhaustion. Feeling tired and fatigued afterward is normal. It's crucial to allow yourself time to recover in the hours following therapy. Prioritise self-care activities such as taking a walk in the park, having a nap, or listening to soothing music. Practise patience and compassion with yourself, and over time, you'll likely find that you require less and less recovery time.

5. Growth extends beyond therapy sessions:

While speaking to a professional can be therapeutic in itself, the lasting results emerge from the work done outside of therapy. The nature of this work varies based on your circumstances and your therapist's approach. You might be assigned worksheets, practical exercises, or encouraged to engage in honest conversations with people in your life. Sometimes, the integration of therapy insights occurs days, weeks, or even months after the initial session, resulting in unexpected emotional breakthroughs. Embrace the possibility of experiencing revelations at any given moment.

Often it is easy to forget the fact that therapists cannot do the work for you. While one can logically understand that she would be responsible for her own growth, it is not uncommon to hope that the therapist would provide all the answers. However, the transformative journey begins with self-initiated effort.

6. Taking breaks from therapy is okay:

Modern society often pressures individuals to constantly work on themselves, seeking rapid growth and healing. However, it's essential to recognize when you need a break from the healing process due to its inherent exhaustion. Financial considerations may also necessitate a therapy hiatus. Taking a break does not indicate giving up; it is simply a part of the overall process.

Embarking on therapy is a courageous step toward self-discovery and personal growth. By embracing these insights, you can navigate the therapy room with greater confidence, allowing this transformative journey to unfold at your own pace. Remember, therapy is a partnership, and with the right therapist and self-commitment, you are en route to profound self-realisation.

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