People go to therapy for many reasons. It has sometimes been called "the talking cure". There is an assumption, and rightly so, that therapy will revolve around conversations between a patient (or client) and their therapist. But what if you finally get to the therapy space and you don't know what to say?
Therapy is about relationships. Relationships take time. When a person first enters therapy there is an often unspoken understanding that the connection with their therapist will include conversations that can be considered intimate. Learning to trust in that type of deeper dialogue with a person you might have just met can take time. Even if you've been seeing your therapist for awhile, the issues that brought you to therapy can be difficult to describe as they come to mind.
Even though deciding to trust is a journey and not an event, it can be worth it. In fact, many people who come to therapy have trouble trusting others and that's part of why they're seeking help. Don't let any silences on that journey make you run the other way. Be prepared to build trust in at least three important ways:
~ Trusting the process. Remember that building a relationship takes time. A seasoned and skilled therapist understands this and is willing to take the steps to build trust with you.
~ Trusting the silent moments. If you find yourself not knowing what to say this can be typical and while it might be frustrating, shouldn't alarm you. It also shouldn't discourage you from giving therapy a chance. In fact, silence can be necessary in order for your body and mind to work together to find the right words for your story. At times, you might find that your therapist is silent with you. It can feel awkward, but it could mean you've found a therapist who understands the power of that silence.
~ Trusting your story. There is clear evidence that our bodies have the ability to hold our emotional and psychological pain in our muscles, our joints, our GI tract, and so on. If you've ever been nauseous because you're nervous, you understand this connection between the body and mind. It's also clear, because we are human, that we have a need to make sense of ourselves and what we've been through. We do that mostly through words. Given time and working with a therapist, your story will find its way to be told.
** As always, if you are having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, text 988, or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org and click "Chat" **
Some people like to add reading to their work towards personal growth. Check out a few titles I've come across that some have found helpful.
Not "Just Friends": Rebuilding Trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity, Shirley P. Glass, Ph.D. - an important read for anyone affected by infidelity.
Grateful for the Fight: Using Inner Conflict to Transform Yourself and Your Relationships, Viola Neufeld - Find out how you can address the conflicts within yourself to achieve personal growth and improve the quality of your relationships.
Just One Thing, Rick Hanson, Ph.D. - Neuroscientist, Dr. Rick Hanson, has compiled 52 exercises for helping us remain mindful and gain peace in our lives.
Hold Me Tight, Seven Conversations for a LifeTime of Love, Dr. Sue Johnson - Couples in all stages of their relationship will benefit from reading this book on how to create meaningful attachments.
Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don't Deserve, Lewis B. Smedes - Learning how to remove resentment from our hearts is an important and powerful step toward healthy living!
Running On Empty: Overcoming Your Childhood Emotional Neglect, Jonice Webb, Ph.D. - Dr. Webb writes about a powerful, yet often unnoticed adverse childhood effect that leaves many adults wondering why their lives seem to lack meaning, believe they should have accomplished more, or just don't feel right. If you have been wondering why you can be so accomplished in certain areas, yet feel completely unraveled in others, this book might be for you.
Man's Search for Meaning by Vicktor Frankl, MD - A book birthed from reflecting on his time as a survivor of Auschwitz and other concentration camps, Frankl's book is considered by some a must-read when you find yourself needing to transcend suffering and find meaning in life.
Boundaries of the Soul: The Practice of Jung's Psychology, by June Singer, Ph.D. - Having studied the great Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, June Singer was able to articulate in the most clear way, the underlying essence of one's 'personhood'. Want to know what many therapists hold in awareness as we help you live your best lives? Though quite an undertaking, this book is rich with explanation into what Carl Jung knew to be at the core of our humanness.
Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, by Parker J. Palmer - a master teacher and leader, Parker Palmer wrote this book about finding the way into our purpose in life. He uses his own journey through depression and vocational confusion as an example of how we create a sense of meaning in our lives.
Where Is God When It Hurts? A Comforting, Healing Guide for Coping with Hard Times, Philip Yancey - This book does a beautiful job of helping us understand the answer to this common question.
The Road Less Travelled, M. Scott Peck - Another classic from my graduate school days. An in-depth and profound look at this journey of being human.
How To Carry What Can't Be Fixed: A Journal for Grief, Megan Devine - Megan is a licensed therapist and has offered an inclusive, beautiful journal that can help anyone moving through the grieving process.
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