Let’s paint a scenario:
It’s your third session with your therapist. They’re wonderful and offer great advice, but something just doesn’t seem right. You feel like they’re holding back or maybe you’re holding back. You’re nervous to delve into your emotions and maybe a bit embarrassed. Therapy is something that you really want to do, and you want to receive all of the benefits and growth that is waiting for you, but something just feels off.
Maybe the relationship you currently have with your therapist isn’t the strongest it can be. The journey you’ve just began is a long one, filled with a variety of ups and downs that your therapist will guide you through. To ensure you receive the best from therapy, you must have a strong relationship with your therapist. This will take time and effort from both of you, but in the end – it will be worth it!
Below are some tips that might help make that relationship stronger:
Be Open & Honest
Being open and honest is much more than telling your fears and secrets. It’s about setting your goals and establishing your expectations.
Tell your therapist what you’re looking for and what you hope to benefit from therapy. Are you looking for support? Are you looking to heal? Be sure to express your thoughts and feelings. If there’s something that you and your therapist have been working on that is simply not helping – share that!
The advice and solutions are endless, but you and your therapist will need somewhere to start. Therapy is your journey in becoming the best version of yourself, your therapist is there to guide you – but cannot guide what they cannot see.
TIP: If you’re unsure of what you’re looking for, use a journal. Spend some time writing what you believe you need help with, your goals, your struggles – anything that you believe is important and share that with your therapist.
Your Therapist is Not Always Going to be your Cheerleader
This one can be hard to hear.
Keep in mind that your therapist is there to build you up and help you overcome personal struggles. Progress can be slow and will not come without a little push. It will take time, sure – but each session will conclude with an assignment. An assignment is something that you will need to work on and report back to your therapist. By keeping openness and honesty in your relationship, your therapist will be able to see things that you might not see yourself.
Always remember, your therapist will support you every step of the way – they might not cheer on every move you make, but that’s okay! They’re your flashlight in a dark tunnel, pointing you in the right direction as you continue down your path.
TIP: If your therapist is working in a way that you don’t appreciate, you should let them know. Your relationship needs to be open and two-sided to effectively work.
Remember your Therapist is Human too
This might be the most important thing to remember when building a strong relationship with your therapist. Sometimes your therapist might get stuck, they might not have the answers you’re looking for and that may leave you upset. Don’t worry, you two will figure it out together.
Your therapist only knows what you’ve told them, they have not walked in your shoes, therefore they might need further explanation or for you to repeat what you’ve already stated. Try not to get frustrated. You two are on the same team, working through the play book until you come across the best play. Be patient, be honest and trust in each other.
Therapy can be hard – really hard. You can hit wall after wall, relive memories that you’ve shoved so far down that you didn’t even remember were there – but don’t give up. Even if it can feel like you’re getting nowhere, know that over session after session you are becoming stronger, braver, and wiser.
There is a common saying; “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different.”