What can you expect from therapy?
Suppose you have never been to therapy or have never had much contact with psychology. In that case, it is essential to understand what to expect from therapy and the limits.
We often go to therapy with specific problems and want particular solutions in the shortest possible time. But unfortunately, therapy is not a magic bullet. It is a process where the psychologist plays the role of accompaniment and guidance, but the work has to come from you.
It is essential to manage expectations before starting therapy with myth-free information about what therapy can offer you and what you can and cannot expect from the therapist. In this way, you will not only save yourself unnecessary frustration, but you will be able to fully commit to your treatment and get down to the work of getting the answers and solutions you are looking for.
Expectations about therapy, what sessions with a psychologist can offer you
Many people who come to therapy have doubts about what the sessions with a psychologist will be like and feel insecure. This is entirely normal. However, sometimes we also carry with us some mistaken beliefs and overly high expectations, especially if it is our first time in therapy. The problem is that sometimes these beliefs and expectations turn into demands that cannot and should not always be met. Therefore, from the beginning, it is best to show what you can expect from therapy to avoid disappointments.
Support in coping with your problems
Whether you want to overcome depression or anxiety, but the trauma behind you or learn how to manage day-to-day conflicts better, you will find the support you need in therapy. In addition to listening to you and understanding you, the psychologist will guide you along the way to find the best solution to your problems.
All this is framed in a climate of absolute acceptance, which means that the therapist will not judge or criticise you at any time because they are aware that up until now, you have done the best you could with the tools you had at your disposal. Therefore, if you are looking for validation of your emotions and experiences and unconditional support to overcome your problems, you can find it in therapy.
It would help if you remembered that the therapists will always try to give you an active role in your life and your improvement; you will have to work and look for your answers. The therapist will remain by your side as a guide but never tell you what to do at first, as it would be like offering you the fish without having taught you how to fish.
Resources for coping with life
Many people believe that they will only find a solution to their symptoms and emotional discomfort in therapy. Still, in reality, you can go a step further in sessions with a therapist if that is your intention. The therapist offers you support when you need it most and equips you with the necessary techniques and resources so that you can face life on your own once you get out of the difficult situation you are in.
In therapy, you can access many resources that will help you have a better quality of life and a better emotional balance, all with the support of a scientific endorsement behind it. Such as tools to communicate better with others, manage conflicts assertively and techniques to control anger or relieve stress.
Tools to know yourself
Most of us think we know ourselves very well, but the truth is that we know more about ourselves than we know about ourselves. The good news is that if you want to discover your most profound "I" as a starting point to embrace your lights and shadows, you will find the ideal space to achieve it in the sessions with the psychologist. Throughout the therapy, you will be able to learn numerous tools that will allow you to delve into your emotions, feelings and ideas to discover who you are. You will find out where your main fears come from, when insecurity took hold of you and why you don't dare to leave your comfort zone. However, you will also discover your main strengths and identify those qualities that have gone unnoticed until now.
Confidentiality and discretion
Many people who come to therapy for the first time are afraid to show their deepest feelings and thoughts because they believe they might go beyond the psychotherapy setting. However, the truth is that in therapy, you will be able to talk freely about everything that comes to life in your inner world because you have the discretion and confidentiality of the psychologist. The therapist will not only listen to everything you have to say without questioning your arguments but is also committed to ensuring that this information does not leave that context. So, therapy is the right environment for you if you need to let off steam in a way you have never done before.
Therapy does not bring immediate results; you must be patient and dedicate time and effort to your recovery. In fact, at first, you will devote a few sessions almost exclusively to the evaluation of your problem and not so much to the incorporation of treatment and techniques; this is a necessary step to ensure the therapy turns out to be ineffective.
However, as the sessions progress, you should notice that your symptoms are improving and getting closer to your initial goal. It is estimated that around 75% to 80% of people who come to psychotherapy experience an improvement in symptoms and significant psychological changes, so if the strategy your therapist is using is appropriate, you should feel better as time goes on. If this is not the case, you may need to discuss this with your therapist so that they can change their approach or refer you to another professional.
What you won't find in therapy
Many people decide to see a psychologist when they feel at the end of their emotional rope. As a result, they often have high expectations of therapy. However, as much as you want to feel better and for treatment to work, you should be aware that there are some demands that a psychotherapeutic process will not be able to meet.
Therapy will not give you quick answers to your problems. The first changes require time, patience and, above all, effort. Obviously, throughout the sessions, you will gradually find answers to what is happening inside you and arm yourself with tools and resources to face life in a better way. However, this will not happen overnight; the alterations that have taken months or, in some cases, years to develop will not disappear in three visits to the psychologist. And the sooner you are aware of this reality, the sooner you can lower your expectations and make a real commitment to your recovery.
The psychologist will not offer magic solutions to your problems, nor will they solve them. Their role is to guide you along the way and give you the resources you need to find the solutions on your own. They will also motivate you to keep going when you feel faint and smooth the way, but they will not do the work for you or take responsibility for your decisions. To get results in therapy, you must be genuinely committed to your recovery and wellbeing, follow your therapist's instructions and do your best to change what is not working in your life. Taking an active and responsible role in your life is essential to get better now and to guide your life in the future in the healthiest way for you.
Disappearance of problems
Many people come to therapy thinking that in this way, their problems will disappear. However, the goal of sessions with a psychologist is not to make your problems disappear but to alleviate the discomfort they cause you and give you the tools and skills you need to cope with them. The therapist is not an expert who will solve the conflict with your partner or the problems with your parents but will help and guide you to do it on your own. Likely, after the therapy, many of the issues you came with will still be there, as they are part of life; the difference will be that after the therapy is over, they will not affect you with the same intensity, and you will be prepared to face them in a better way.
Finally, if this is your first time in therapy, you probably have high expectations about the therapeutic process and the results. That's OK. It is also the therapist's role to help you level those expectations, explain what you can and cannot expect from therapy and answer any questions you may have.
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