8 Things Therapists Want Clients to Know
Therapists dispel myths and share insights about how to get the most out of therapy
This article is a part of our “Ask a Therapist!” series, where we ask our team of therapists questions from our community and compile the answers for you. To submit your question, click here.
This month’s Ask a Therapist question is: What is something you wish people knew about therapy?
“I wish people knew that therapy is helpful regardless of whether you think you need it. Many people assume that therapy is for people with ‘problems’ when in actuality therapy is just an opportunity for us to get to know ourselves better, to understand what makes us tick and how we make decisions. I’ve never met anyone who’s never been to therapy that I didn’t think could benefit in some way from that kind of self-exploration.” - Leslie Carr, PsyD
“I wish people knew that therapy is not a magical solution. Therapy involves work outside the office and actions in life. Without action and work outside the office, nothing can really change. This would make seeing results so much faster and easier.”- Paola Giordani, Psychoanalyst
“I wish people knew that therapy is not about someone lying on a couch with a therapist sitting beside them with a pad of paper not talking and taking notes. Instead, therapy is about a trained professional providing you with support while helping you to overcome past difficulties, manage transitions, gain insights and help you learn new, healthful behaviors. In other words, therapy is about helping you create a life that is fulfilling and where you can be the best you can be.” - Alison Humphreys, LCPC
“One of the things that I wish people who come to therapy knew about therapy is that it’s not a passive process. Therapists are not there to do all the work and make you better or happy. Therapy is a collaborative process between two experts - the client and the therapist. Clients are experts in their own lives and lived experiences, while therapists are experts in the process and practice of therapy and psychology. Therapy combines these two areas of expertise to explore, determine and develop outcomes that allow clients to achieve their goals for therapy. Most clients and therapists work equally hard in the therapeutic relationship using their respective areas of expertise. If we work together and combine our expertise, then you - the client - own those changes in your life. It is not something your therapist did to you.
Another thing I wish clients knew is how psychotherapy is a lot like physical therapy. If you break your leg and have to go to physical therapy, you might actually feel more pain after your physical therapy sessions rather than less because you are using muscles you haven’t used in some time or have forgotten how to use. Psychotherapy is sometimes like that, only you are using psychological muscles you haven’t used before or have not used in a long time. The more you learn to use those muscles correctly, the less pain there is.” - Elizabeth Kincade, Ph.D
“Recognize that it takes a huge amount of bravery and effort on their part to sign up for therapy.” - Jessica McDaniel, LPC
“Therapy is hard and it’s important to stick with it. It’s uncomfortable to figure your stuff out but so worth it in the end.” - Jennifer Patterson, LMFT ATR-BC
“Attending your first therapy session is such a big leap forward to empowering yourself, reaching your goals and enhancing your mental health. Therapy does take work and most of it is really in-depth and challenging. It isn’t a quick fix, but with your engagement and consistency, you will achieve positive results. If you feel stuck in therapy or unsure of the transition forward, always feel free to ask your therapist for feedback. They will be receptive and encouraging of this and will work with you to ensure you are both walking on the same path.” - Lisa De Regt, BSc
“Therapy does not have to be scary. It can be as simple as letting the thoughts in your head out to a non-judgmental person who is simply there to listen.” - Meredith Seltzer, MS NCC LPC