Are We Having Fun Yet?
“I’m in therapy…I should be feeling better, right? Why do I feel more challenged than before I began?”
Many people think of therapy as an emotional tune-up, much like bringing the car in when it begins to sputter and spark. Find a good therapist, make an appointment, talk it out, pay the bill, and leave the session with a shiny new outlook. It can be disconcerting to realize that after a session or two, the real work of reaching your goals has just begun. Not only that, you may have homework, challenges to old ways of thinking, and new habits to practice. You may feel a temporary unbalancing of your emotional equilibrium as you work with your therapist through past issues and identify new, effective ways to live your life.
When heartache, dissatisfaction, and unease have existed for months or years, it can take a bit of time to uncover thoughts and feelings to get to where you want to be. Old feelings and memories can pop up to the surface, leading you to wonder when the peace and serenity you seek is going to become a reality.
Hang in there! Your therapist is a partner in this journey with you, and is there to provide a safe space to explore past and current issues. It is common to feel a mixture of relief and vulnerability when you begin therapy. You may be exploring feelings which have been dormant for years. Uncovering one layer may remind you of others you would like to address. It takes some time to see all the issues more clearly. If anything, that bit of discomfort can be a sign that old issues are being deconstructed so that you can move forward toward your goals.
Most therapists don’t believe in prolonging therapy just for the sake of keeping you in treatment. Your goals and challenges make up the path we walk with you, keeping the sessions focused and on track. Each person is different, and your therapist will work with you to understand your needs. So if you feel a little off balance, vulnerable, and even raw at times when you start therapy, don’t despair. That’s the time to dig in and push forward, using the tools you gain in your sessions. Be sure to bring up any of these feelings with your therapist, as well. She needs to know how the process is working for you, and by sharing how you are experiencing therapy, the two of you can work together to make the journey more effective.