What does therapy REALLY feel like?
Years ago a dear friend of mine confessed to me that she really didn't like the idea of using therapy to treat her depressed mood because of a childhood experience she had with a therapist. "What happened?" Well she shared with me with distain still reverberating ten years post session, that the therapist asked her if she were a fish what type of fish would she be? My friend found this question to be insulting & minimizing of what she was experiencing at the time. So she left the session feeling trivialized. Okay got it. Now to be clear I do not ask that specific question but it can prove helpful at times to let a client know why I'm asking my question(s). Therapy is a relationship - it's collaborative. We need to work together. So therapy should feel collaborative.
People I have met bring their children to see me specifically because their parents had brought them to see a therapist and that person "got me through a lot of difficult times growing up." So therapy can feel like a support and your therapist a trusted person to work through lives challenges. Okay I can see that too. Therapy can feel collaborative and supportive. Did I mention it's a relationship? Having a therapeutic relationship is key with trust as a core value. Your therapist should feel like someone that you can trust.
Not too many years ago a client I had treated for some time complained to me one day as we wrapped up the session that normally when they left therapy they "felt good" and "energized." However, on this day as they went to leave there was a "heaviness" and they were not sure that they liked it. Some topics that are raised can be tough. Change can feel uncomfortable at points and then feel amazingly rewarding. I always promise my clients that I'm there to help guide and facilitate change and won't ask them to do anything that I don't believe they aren't ready to be successful at. Making some changes can be hard but decisions are made together about what goals are important to you to strive to achieve. You're in control. Therapy can feel like a relationship that is collaborative, supportive, trustworthy and like you are in control. That's what therapy can feel like. More on the science of therapy in the next blog post!