People sometimes come to therapy because they are unhappy with themselves or unfortunate things have happened to them. They may have lost a job or relationship, gotten into some kind of trouble, suffered a death of someone important, or had difficulties befall a loved one. What they want is support and guidance: relief. They are not looking to explore the past. They want help to get through it.
Other times, people notice that they are repeating some kind of pattern that does not work well for them, or they find themselves stuck in an unpleasant state of mind or feeling. That is more complicated and takes more time. After all, those patterns may have taken a lifetime to develop. Often, something specific has happened recently to trigger or worsen those feelings. It may take some exploration to figure out – some priority to the immediate crisis or event, and then work to go underneath and find out what drives or contributes to things you want to change. It helps to have someone who can be objective: a therapist who is not part of your social circle, not someone that you worry about keeping it private, or worry about burdening with difficult feelings. Someone who can help you look at things and perhaps find a better way of understanding them, of putting the pieces back together differently that feels and works better for you.
It may take some time to develop confidence in our work together and trust in what we are doing. If we are talking about something that is important to you, you will understandably want to feel that you can trust me, to get past experiences you may have had in your life of being misunderstood or hurt. At times, it can feel like “here you go again”: that the same bad interaction that happened with someone in your past is playing out all over again in treatment. It is extremely helpful when that happens to be able to look at and explore that. It may be an example of just what you want to change, right there in the room with us, letting us think about it and figure it out together. It is a great opportunity but hard to work through at the time. The feelings come alive, which is what makes it so valuable.
You might gain more understanding and acceptance of yourself, and feel better about yourself. You might gain the chance to think about what you are feeling and make a different choice in what you say or do. It may even result in a change in your life circumstances