Have you ever thought about doing something and decided against it as you thought it wasn't for you? How many times have you then been proved wrong or realised it wasn't as bad as you thought it was going to be? I've had this conversation with new clients and existing clients many times; "oh it's not as bad as I thought" or "I thought you were just going to tell me what to do" have been a number of responses I've had.
Misconceptions can often be common in therapy due to what you see on TV, hear from someone that had a bad experience or learn from loved ones even though they may never have been to a session before. Below are some common misconceptions I've encountered and how I would answer them for any client:
Therapists are only interested in my childhood - some therapists work in a way that looks at how childhood experiences have shaped who you are today and that can sometimes be helpful. In REBT we acknowledge that the past has happened but how you feel about it today is the most important factor as this impacts your current unhealthy beliefs
Is it all my fault? - we are responsible for how we each think, feel and act; good or bad. Whilst certain situations may not be your fault we look at the part each person plays in it and was it emotionally healthy
Am I allowed to feel this way? - I accept bad things happen to good people. Is it fair? no, and you're allowed to feel upset, hurt or angry. However, do you want to feel that way forever? Is it impacting you from getting on with life?
If I could be helped I'd be doing it already wouldn't I? - Events, beliefs and consequences are all intertwined and influence each other. That means sometimes things aren't always that simple but doesn't mean you're beyond help.
Are you just going to tell me what to do? - Not at all. With REBT I can give you an alternative way of thinking but you can reject it if you want to. This is a collaboration process so you only do what you feel able to at each stage of the process.
Therapy feels like it's own language, what if I don't understand? - It can feel that way if you've not had therapy before, however, it has to be a process you feel comfortable with. As a therapist I match to you, not you match to me.
As written in one of my earlier blog posts "We're all the same right? Wrong!" not all therapists work in the same way but does that mean we play different roles? Well the answer, in my opinion is simple, I can be whoever you allow me to be. As a practising counselling professional I reflect on who I am to my clients an awful lot, mostly "am I being helpful?". I've realised that to no two clients am I the same person. That doesn't mean I change who I am but that each client sees me as someone different depending on their needs. In REBT we call this being an authentic chameleon, introducing subtle changes to suit the needs of you client.
Whilst I reflected on this I realised that it's not about doing something for a client but being someone for a client. So that's what I try to do, being there whilst they explore their unhealthy demands and the emotions that come from this. It's not always perfect but then who is? That also means that can be done in different ways. Some clients need clear & defined explanations, some prefer to act out their beliefs with drawings or models & some like to write it down. We all want to achieve our goals but the journey is different for each client and it's one of the many reasons why I love what I do.
Being in therapy doesn't mean you're failing at life or unable to cope. It can mean that there's an area of life you need support on and I am here to work with you on it. If you felt ill you'd go to a doctor wouldn't you? Why should you neglect yourself if it's to do with your feelings?
If you, or anyone you know, could benefit from talking to a therapist please feel free to get in touch or view the rest of my site. Change starts today.
Till next time