Today, you probably don’t even flinch when a friend or family member tells you that they’re in therapy. It’s become wonderfully normalized, and talking about it has become about as casual as discussing the weather. “My therapist says,” is a pretty common way you hear sentences start these days – at least if you’re a millennial or Gen Zer, as over a third of each of these demographics have sought out therapy, according to research. Millennials even lead the charge in seeking couples counseling for their romantic relationships. Overall, we’re pretty cozy with the concept of therapy. However, older generations, as you may have guessed, don’t report seeking therapy quite as much. Of course, as for Baby Boomers who admit they have seen a therapist, those numbers may not even be accurate, since that generation isn’t as ready to confess that type of information. Luckily, if you’re ready to see a therapist or already are in therapy, you can feel rather confident that that’s something you can tell loved ones, without facing judgment. So you can relax about what others think, and focus on getting good work done on therapy. But are you?
Going to therapy is the most important step in your mental health journey. The very fact that you picked up the phone, made the appointment, and showed up already demonstrates a willingness to self-reflect, face hard truths, and even go through some uncomfortable growing pains. But, the very fact that you’re in therapy in the first place also demonstrates that there are some parts of your psyche and emotions you don’t fully understand, or don’t fully feel control over, which means that sometimes, you’ll get in your own way in therapy. I spent several years in therapy myself and didn’t see results for a while. It wasn’t the therapist’s fault: it was my own. I wasn’t being honest with him, partially because I wasn’t being honest with myself. But until you can do both, you won’t see much progress. Here are things to be honest with your therapist about.
How the story went down
It’s important to remember that your therapist knows you aren’t perfect. She knows it because A) you’re human and B) you came to therapy because you were admitting there are behaviors you’d like to change. So there shouldn’t be a lot of embarrassment around sharing a story in which you weren’t your best self. The point of therapy isn’t to show your therapist that you always behave perfectly and that everyone else around you is the problem. That won’t be very useful. Your therapist isn’t treating those other people – she’s treating you. So, when telling her about a conflict that occurred with someone else, resist the urge to exaggerate their mistakes and downplay yours. Tell the story the way it went down. Otherwise, your therapist can’t help you.