If you are someone who finds it difficult to talk about your feelings, to engage in conversations about emotions, or who is easily frustrated or impatient with problems that seem to defy logical, rational solutions, then you may worry that therapy is going to be too much for you.
This is especially likely to be the case if your resilience is at a low ebb, and the problems you are currently facing have been hanging around for a while.
You may have had less than satisfactory experiences with previous attempts at therapy or in discussing issues with the trusted few in your social network.
Under these conditions, it is understandable that your brain will be looking for reasons to avoid doing (more of) the hard work needed to make a meaningful difference in your situation.
The difference between a professional and your support network
But here’s the thing – going to a professional for this kind of assistance is entirely different than speaking to a close friend or supportive family member.
What makes conversations in therapy different (and perhaps easier in some ways) from talking to a close friend, is the type of questions asked and the focus on your experience.
Nevertheless, like anything worthwhile, engaging in personal change and development does take time.
Time is spent exploring the problems, identifying core issues, devising a treatment plan, then engaging actively in learning and implementing new perspectives and behaviours. Often you will be uncovering historical patterns and long-held assumptions which have served to keep you stuck.
Check in with yourself about any echoes from the past which might be tainting your views on emotional vulnerability. For instance, have you been taught to deny your emotions, to be more sensitive to other people’s emotions than to your own, to take on other people’s problems, even when it’s bad for you?
As with most important things in life, core change takes commitment, courage and self-compassion. And yes, talk-therapy usually involves creating the environment where meaningful work can be done to help you identify and manage those aspects of you which are keeping you stuck. This means having the sorts of discussions which offer the potential for a deep dive into core issues holding you back.
But what if, by engaging whole-heartedly in a process of self-enhancement, you found that being in touch with your emotional needs, is actually a source of strength instead of an issue of shame?
How a professional can help you
My job, as a Clinical Psychologist, is to guide you through the process of developing heightened awareness and enhanced skills in the areas most relevant to helping you deal with the issues differently. The experience of having a deep and meaningful conversation about your feelings is likely to be manifestly different within the supportive therapeutic environment than it may have been in day-to-day discussions with different social rules and expectations.
I offer a sounding board, a mirror, and some new ideas and perspectives to help you manage your situation differently. There is no judgement, shaming, or blaming involved in the unconditionally constructive process I provide to my clients.
So, sure, change is hard and unpacking difficult memories and emotions can be scary. But if done within the context of seeking to understand and positively impact your goals, these conversations can take on a different nuance or flavour. Because, if you are stuck in learned habits which are holding you back, you also have the potential to unlearn them, which offers a more hopeful vision for the future!