If you find this article helpful, might I invite you to consider reading the book? It’s a big decision to decide to go to therapy, and so don’t dismiss (or grab) it lightly. Make a thoughtful decision–notice your resistance and be curious about it. Work it through thoughtfully. Available on Amazon in softcover and kindle format, and electronically at Indigo:
Dear Potential Client:
As a person contemplating entering counselling, I feel like there are a few things you need to know. A lot more people have considered counselling than have actually made an appointment. So…a lot of people wonder about making an appointment, maybe even want to make an appointment…but don’t.
I just wanna make sure that you decide to not come to counselling for the right reasons.
I spoke to a friend this week who is in serious crisis. Other friends of ours were encouraging her to make an appointment with a therapist. In the end she spent the money for a session on paint for her bedroom. She spent her spare time for a week making her bedroom into her own little personal haven–a beautiful place to rest when the world feels harsh and confusing. She maintains that this was the best therapy for her.
Good on her for making that decision!
She did some important healing. She did therapy. Just not in an office with a therapist.
Sometimes a new coat of paint truly is therapy.
Go for it...or any other activities/relationships that are truly healing.
But sometimes people who don’t go to therapy avoid healing altogether.
That makes me sad.
It’s hard to know that there might be healing from the hurting for people, and they aren’t grabbing the opportunity, and squeezing it.
I love it when people grab an opportunity to heal – whether it is painting, or therapy – and are careful to squeeze every last drop of healing out of the opportunity into their hearts.
I think there are reasons people choose to not go to counselling for healing. I’m gonna invite you to think on these…and decide if you are choosing not to go to counselling for good reasons. These are reasons that I think are powerfully and strongly given, that in my mind, just don’t hold up:
1. You’ve been told counselling is for sissies (or wimps, or weaklings or something of the sort)
Evidently you’ve never witnessed a counselling session.
Simply put: therapy is one long exercise in vulnerability.
Brené Brown, one of my favourite researchers, says that vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. But it is never weakness. I like her and I know that thought to be true.
My clients show me. Every. Single. Day.
Therapy is hard and risky work. It means:
- Going to places inside and saying things out loud that haven’t seen the light of day for years, or maybe ever.
- Acknowledging responsibility for the way things haven’t been going well in your marriage.
- Expressing discomfort about troublesome relationships with a therapist…and then eventually, maybe even within that relationship.
- Being real about how fears that have developed from the ghost of trauma past continue to pull the strings in your life.
- Going beneath the anger to acknowledge the fear, or be real about the loss, or to feel the hurt
- Acknowledging the use of old patterns that worked well when you were younger…but now are pulling you out of your authenticity…are making it hard for you to show up in your life right now.
2. You’ve been told that therapy is all about blaming your mother/father/bully/abuser…and it just seems like that’s a lousy use of money
Bad things happen to good people. Life isn’t fair. Trauma shapes us powerfully. We don’t have to like it. It’s just truth.
But healing means taking responsibility for your own internal suffering. It means being aware not only of what happened, but how you tell yourself a story about what happened. It means growing to accept that others are often doing the best they can, even when they are doing bad and hurtful things.
Those insights–when you get them at a soul level…well, that changes a person.
It means drawing boundaries and having hard conversations. It means grieving things that will never be…and then not hurting from the fantasy that will never be.
I’ll warn you. Therapy is hard.
Once you start counselling, you won’t be able to keep on blaming others for your internal discomfort.
It means looking inside for how your reaction to what has happened shapes your experience of what happened. It’s often the story we tell ourselves about what happened that shapes how we see the world. The story we tell ourselves is often an unconscious confabulation where we honestly believe a lie about ourselves or the world.
There is no way to know when we are confabulating without someone hearing our story and helping us work through it. Perspective is essential…and how are we supposed to see parts of ourselves we can’t see?
3. You think it’s better to do this alone
A lot of people believed for a long time that the earth was flat. Even when science said the world was round, folks denied it, and maintained the belief that the earth was a pancake.
They can believe the earth is a giant Frisbee…but that doesn’t change the reality…the earth is a giant ball.
And folks…we are wired for connection. We need each other. Science is uber clear on this.
“I don’t need anybody” or “I don’t let anybody in” or “I’ll only get hurt if I am vulnerable” are all emotional and relational equivalents of “The world is flat”.
We understand the world and ourselves best in community. Therapy is an excellent place to start connecting if you live in a world where you have always believed, “I don’t need anybody”.
I’ve had folks (most often they are men) that tell me within the first 10-15 minutes of a session that they have told me more of their inner world than they have told anybody. Ever.
And folks, those people who are opening up–for the first time in their lives–they are terrified and second guessing themselves…and wondering why they waited so long. It’s hard and challenging…and we can’t promise you a straight upward line of linear progress
Talking to another person about the secrets and the fears and the inadequacies of one’s life paradoxically feels life-giving and soul-saving. It acts like a glass of clean, cool water to a parched and thirsty soul…the dry cracks start to fill in, even in just the sharing of one’s story.
Secrets kill…and therapy is a great place to start speaking out, to practice talking about the things that secretly hijack your life. Once they are spoken of, they lose their power.
In this clip, Wayne Brady speaks of the tremendous pressure that culture puts on people–especially men–to pretend they are OK.
So, dear-person-who-is-considering-counselling, know that we are ready to rumble with you. Make the call or write the email, and get the reckoning started. Get your brave on, and tell your story to someone who wants to help you write a better story.
You might have some questions about what it is really like to book an appointment. or what to expect the first session. Call us… 204 275 1045. Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org Fill out our contact page. Ask us whatever you need to, to make it possible for you to show up at an appointment.
You don’t have to come to counselling if it’s not right for you. But please make sure that you’re not just making excuses. Please be candid with yourself if you are avoiding something big in your life.
We would be honoured to work with you.