The Therapy Experience
When I started attending school, working towards my masters in counseling, they told us we would need to attend therapy sessions for ourselves. I had never been in therapy before. I had seen the mock session tapes they showed us in the classroom. I had completed mock sessions with my classmates. This was different, they wanted us to actually go, be the client, and workout any "stuff" that came up during our sessions. All this was in an effort to make us the best possibly therapist by the time our journey at Regent University was completed.
As required, I attended the sessions. What I learned during those sessions has shaped the way I interact with my clients to this day. Being the client was not the most comfortable position to be in. Having to share personal information, experiences and thoughts to a stranger was hard! I realized the fact that my therapist and I had different cultural backgrounds played a role in how much and what information I was willing to share. I would leave sessions thinking all these thoughts about what my therapist might think about me. This was uncomfortable. I dreaded going back to my next session because I was not attending the sessions for myself but rather to fulfill a requirement.
Now fast forward a few years, I am the therapist and someone else has the role of being my client. I can relate to ways my client might feel because I was once in that role too. The reality is, if we are being honest here, sometimes I am still in that client role. There are times when I benefit from sessions with a therapist myself, I am only human too! Having been in both roles of the therapeutic relationship, I have found that it is helpful to acknowledge the reality of seeking assistance, from a stranger, for something that is bothering you can be HARD. It can take courage, it can take vulnerability, it can take time (not only the time the actual session requires) to be ready to seek therapy, time to become comfortable with your therapist.
Here is my bottom line so to say: Do I like therapy? The answer is yes! Yes, I enjoy being the therapist. Yes, I enjoy being the client. Why, you ask? Because therapy is a place to process, a sounding board that does not take on the stress of what is being said. It is a place to unload all the "junk" that weighs on you, promoting the ability of you to be free of it, see situations more clearly, restructure the emotions/energy you are using and giving to situations or memories. Lastly, therapy sessions create a space that is safe to say those thoughts that we judge ourselves for because they are "unthinkable." Reality is they are thinkable, you are likely not the only person to think them so use your safe space to think it, say it and leave it in the office when you go about your day. Engaging in the therapy process has endless possibilities once you choose to commit to yourself to put in the effort.
Samantha Grimes, LPC, is a Clinical Associate with Family Guidance Centers in our Midlothian office. She provides individual, adolescent, and family therapy. She can be reached at 804-743-0960 or can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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