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10 Things Your Therapist Won’t Tell You But Wants You to Know

10 Things Your Therapist Won’t Tell You But Wants You to Know

Making the decision to see a therapist can be both scary and empowering. Knowing that you have issues to address, and having the strength to do so, is a great first step toward personal growth and healing. Sadly, fear of the unknown and a misunderstanding of the process often prevents people from seeking the help they need and desire. For those who would like to begin the therapeutic journey, but are hesitant to do so, it may be helpful to have some information provided by someone who sits in the other chair.

1. We wish we could be as blunt as Dr. Phil.

If you really desire change, you’ll welcome honesty. And we will be honest with you, we just have to be careful in how we do so. Therapists are trained to be non-judgmental and non-offensive. In some cases we may know that the best way to get through to a person is to give a dose of good old-fashioned “in your face” truth, but we want you to keep coming back.

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2. We have our own problems, and you can benefit from them.

You don’t want a therapist who has had a perfect life, free of conflict or turmoil. You don’t want to be looking for guidance from someone who has never had to figure out the best way to handle a difficult personal situation. We won’t tell you our life stories during your session, but you can benefit from our successful problem-solving skills just the same.

3. You should want us to talk about you…in private.

It benefits you when we talk about your case (confidentially, of course) to our colleagues and mentors. Sometimes we need to bounce things off of each other and brainstorm the best way to help you. This type of consultation really does help you in the long run. Let us know you’re okay with this.

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4. We don’t always know the perfect solution.

Just as we should be humble enough to ask for advice from our colleagues, we should also recognize when the problems you are facing are beyond our expertise. We will always help you the best way we can, holding true to our code of ethics, but if we discover that you would benefit from talking to someone with more experience in your area of difficulty, we will likely recommend a referral.

5. We are not in it for the money.

Yes, there are practitioners who make a lucrative income practicing their professions. But don’t forget the level of time, effort and money they have put into becoming qualified to do what they do. The truth is, a lot of helping professionals are not paid a generous amount to practice, but are there for you anyway because…

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6. We do care about you.

We may appear to be detached at times, but we are trained to remain objective. We can’t help you figure out your issues if we become as entangled in them as you are. But there is no way we could sit across from you day after day, witnessing your pain and suffering, if we didn’t truly want to help you.

7. Not all of us are good at what we do.

As much as we’d like to think otherwise, we know there are therapists out there who are not qualified to counsel properly. These “helpers” may have questionable or inadequate training, or they may have chosen their career path for misguided reasons. Either way, they are harmful and will give you bad advice. Do your homework! Ask about educational background, areas of expertise, treatment philosophy and overall approach to the process. Make sure you are confident in the therapist’s ability to help you.

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8. It may take several tries to find the right therapist for you.

Not every match is perfect the first time around. Sometimes you need to search a little to find the right fit. Therapy should be slightly uncomfortable–discomfort breeds change–but that refers to the process, not the therapist. If anything about the therapist’s beliefs or approach puts up a red flag for you, talk about it. Ask questions and share your concerns. A good therapist will welcome this discussion. If you cannot resolve the problem, it may be time to move on.

9. You may not be ready for therapy right now.

Just as you need to be sure you are working with the right therapist, you also need to be sure you are seeking help at the right time. If you are not truly ready to change, you are wasting both your time and ours. Nothing aggravates a therapist more than someone who reserves an appointment, and then either doesn’t participate fully and honestly, or doesn’t show up at all. How quickly you heal is ultimately up to you.

10. A lot of this information should be shared with you up front.

None of what is disclosed in this article is top secret. Lots of important information will be given to you in the beginning stages of your therapy, and you will be asked to provide a lot of information to the therapist as well. A good therapist will take time to explain the process, provide the reasons behind all of the initial questions, and to ease your worries as you embark on the path to greater personal achievement.

Whether you have already begun the counseling process, or are still in the consideration phase, it is important to know that the therapist is there as a resource and a facilitator of your success. Helping others is in our nature, but we are human and cannot alone work miracles. Successful therapy is a journey defined by genuine commitment, willful self-exploration and meaningful communication.

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Last Updated on September 15, 2020

4 Ways to Deal With Big Life Changes in a Positive Way

4 Ways to Deal With Big Life Changes in a Positive Way

Life changes are constant. Whether it’s in the workplace or our relationships, nothing in life ever remains the same for long.

Regardless of the gravity of change, it can always be a little scary. So scary, in fact, that some people are downright crippled by the idea of it, causing them to remain stagnant through anxiety.

Have you ever noticed how much of life’s transitional periods are riddled with anxious vibes? The quarter life crisis, the mid-life crisis, cold feet before getting married, retirement anxiety, and teenage angst are just a few examples of transitional periods when people tend to panic.

We can’t control every aspect of our lives, and we can’t stop change from happening. However, how we respond to change will greatly affect our overall life experience.

Here are 4 ways you can approach life changes in a positive way.

1. Don’t Fight It

I once heard one of my favorite yoga instructors say “Suffering is what occurs when we resist what is already happening.” The lesson has stuck with me ever since.

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Life changes are usually out of our control. Rather than trying to manipulate the situation and wishing things were different, try flowing with it instead.

Of course, some initial resistance is natural if we’re going into survival mode. Just make sure you are conscious of when this resistance is no longer serving you.

If you’re feeling anxious about impending life changes, it’s time to practice some techniques to address the anxiety directly. These can include meditation, exercise, talking with friends about how you’re feeling, or journaling.

If you’re worried about a big life change, such as starting a new job[1] or moving in with your partner, do your best to control your expectations. It may help you to talk with people you know about their experiences going through similar changes. This will help you form a realistic picture in your mind of what things will look like post-change.

2. Find Healthy Ways to Deal With Feelings

Whenever we’re in transitional periods, it can be easy to lose track of ourselves. Sometimes we feel like we’re being tossed about by life and like we’ve lost our footing, causing some very uncomfortable feelings to arise.

One way we can channel these feelings is by finding healthy ways to release them. For instance, whenever I find myself in a difficult transitional phase, I end up in a mixed martial arts studio.

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The physical activity helps me channel my emotions and release endorphins. It also helps me get in shape, which generally increases my mood and energy levels.

Exercise is important in cultivating positive emotions, but if you’re struggling with anxiety in particular, it’s important to cultivate a regular exercise routine as opposed to a one-off workout. One study found that “Aerobic exercise can promote increase in anxiety acutely and regular aerobic exercise promotes reduction in anxiety levels”[2].

If exercise isn’t your thing, there are other, less intense ways of cultivating positive emotions and reducing anxiety around life changes. You can try stretching, meditating, reading in nature, spending time with family and friends, or cooking a healthy meal.

Find what makes you feel good and helps you ground yourself in the present moment.

3. Reframe Your Perspective

Reframing perspectives is a very powerful tool used in life coaching. It helps clients take a situation they are struggling with, such as a major life change, and find some sort of empowerment in it.

Some examples of disempowered thinking during life changes include casting blame, focusing on negative details, or victimizing[3]. These perspectives can make awkward transitional phases much worse than they have to be.

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Meanwhile, if we utilize a more positive perspective, such as finding a lesson in the situation, realizing that there may be an opportunity for something, or that everything passes, we can come from a greater place of ease.

4. Find Time for Self-Reflection

Having time to reflect is important at any stage in your life, but it’s especially important during transitional periods. It’s quite simple really: we need our time to step back and get centered when things get a little crazy.

As a result, big life changes are perfect for doing some self-reflection. They are opportunities to check in with ourselves and practice getting grounded for a few minutes.

Take a look at this reflective cycle adapted from Glibb’s Self-reflection guide (1988):[4]

Use self-reflection when facing life changes.

    Self-reflective exercises include meditating, yoga or journaling,[5] all of which require some quiet time to get yourself together.

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    One study found that journal improves “self-efficacy, locus of control, and learning”[6]. A healthy sense of self-control can make the process of change easier to bear, so that in itself is a great reason to try self-reflection through journaling.

    To learn how to start journaling, you can check out this article.

    Final Thoughts

    Big life changes may rock us for a little while, but they don’t have to be as bad as we initially perceive them. If handled in a positive manner, transitional periods can pave the way for some serious self-growth, reflection, and awareness.

    Cultivate a sense of positivity and find ways to diminish the anxiety around life changes. Once you make it to the other side, you’ll be grateful that you made it through in the best way possible.

    More Tips on Facing Life Changes

    Featured photo credit: Alora Griffiths via unsplash.com

    Reference

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