Change is hard. There’s no way around it. So when you decide to begin therapy and change, there are some important questions to ask. What does a therapist do to help you change? How do you choose a therapist, or type of therapy, best suited for change? What do you contribute? And, what makes change happen? There are three essential ingredients for change: willingness to change, a therapist who understands what you don’t understand – and time.
Willingness: may seem simple. There are things you want that you don’t have and ways you feel that you don’t like. Why wouldn’t you want to change? But, sometimes it seems less risky to keep things as they are. Especially if you’ve had deep disappointments and people who have failed you in the past. You probably expect more of the same and, anyway, you’ve learned to rely on yourself. Maybe it seems “wiser” to run in the other direction, using familiar methods to manage your own feelings – busyness, sleep, sex, drugs, alcohol, food; to name a few.
If you decide to try therapy, these are things to expect:
A therapist: who listens closely. Keeps what you say in mind. Creates a safe place for your feelings. Understands, with compassion, your fears and whatever feelings you bring. She thinks things over with you. Is open to your thoughts, even your disagreements. And, offers ideas about you that seem new and right. A therapist who pays attention to the details of your problems, and talks to you with sensitivity and directness, can help you get through the initial difficulties of opening up and trying to change.
Change: takes time. Problems take years to develop. They generally begin early in life with experiences, losses, and betrayals that are very painful, frequently misconstrued, and harmful to your view of yourself. In therapy, change comes from talking things out and giving yourself the chance for awareness you didn’t have before – of what you’re afraid of, how you think, and ways you’ve come to manage your feelings. To form new experiences of yourself and others takes time, courage, and help you can grow to trust.