I started going to therapy during my first semester of college. I had no idea what to expect and it made the process scary and intimidating. Now that I've had some time to reflect on my experiences, I wanted to write down what I've learned. I plan to start therapy again, and will take what I've learned with me. So, here are five things I wish I knew before starting therapy.
No one will judge you for going to therapy.
My first few appointments were made in the early hours of the morning so I could avoid running into anyone I knew. Over time I've learned that with most things in college, no one really cares what anyone else is doing. I slowly started opening up to my friends, family, and Odyssey, and they were nothing less than supportive. I don't know why I thought it'd be any other way.
Not every therapist is perfect.
I don't know why I was expecting to have a perfect therapist off the bat, but my first one just didn't work for me. I felt like we were constantly on different pages, and I didn't get the closure I needed on many issues. I'm going to start up therapy again in the fall, with a new therapist who hopefully will better understand my needs. There's no shame in switching doctors if they aren't meeting your care needs.
You will cry.
It sounds like a cliche you see on TV, but when you're unhashing deep psychological issues, it's going to unlock some tears. There's a reason therapists' offices are usually stocked with tissues, and no matter how hard you try to hold back, it's going to happen. But again, there shouldn't be shame around our emotions, especially in a setting where you're trying to better understand them.
Not every session will be progressive or cathartic.
Occasionally, I left sessions more frustrated or with more uncertainty than when I went in. While some of that may have had to do with my therapist not fitting me, it also had to do with me slowly coming to terms with the topics we had been discussing. While I had hoped to leave every session with a burden lifted off my shoulders, that just wasn't the case. And that's okay. Therapy is a tool that I can use to better my own mental health, and ultimately all progress will be made by me, whether that's in or out of a therapy session.
You can't script your sessions.
Although I normally thought through what I wanted to say prior to my sessions, I couldn't account for the questions my therapists would ask me or the direction they would take the session. I had to learn to let the conversation flow naturally and allow my thoughts to come out as they did, regardless of planning ahead.