The first time I ever had therapy it was when I was 18 years old. It was with an elderly woman called Rosa and I was terrified.
I had tried various different ‘self-help’ techniques prior to this and I had surrendered to seeing her very much as a last resort. Although I felt I needed to do ‘something’, I certainly did not want any sympathy and I did not want to be told what to do i.e be challenged about my behaviours. I did, however, realise that my fear of not reaching out for support was keeping me trapped and the only way that things could change, was if I changed. I took a risk and thank God I did. It was the first step on a long journey of recovery.
If you are contemplating therapy and are frozen with the fear of taking the first step, then I think it's crucial to consider what it is that you are so afraid of.
Quite often, when we are fearful of things, we accept that fear, the paralysis that it brings and never move beyond that. However, when we are curious about the origins of our fear, we can unlock things about ourselves that would have otherwise kept us trapped in old patterns and behaviours. Are you fearful of being judged? Are you scared of being vulnerable? Are you frightened of facing painful material? Whatever the reason, you must remind yourself that nothing changes while we continue to do the same things. If we want something in life to be different, then we must change what we’ve always done. Allowing fear to lead our lives means that we often don’t challenge ourselves and the results are a life half-lived.
It's not only normal to be fearful about starting therapy for the first time, it's to be expected. For a lot of people it's a pretty peculiar scenario to meet with a stranger and then to disclose all of your most intimate secrets.
Although meeting with a stranger can be odd, it can also be a relief to speak with someone regularly whom has no investment in you beyond supporting you to overcome life’s obstacles and achieving the goals that you outline together. You have a space to focus on yourself and permission to not worry about the other person. A good therapist will help you to work through material at a pace that you are able to cope with and be there to help you to address your fears and anxieties as they come up.
So many people are afraid to change and of taking a step into the unknown; but allowing our lives to be led by fear keeps us trapped. Change has the huge potential to be positive and to impact your life for the better. No one was meant to handle the challenges of life alone… for many us, therapy is the help we needed.
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