Check your beliefs
I often help clients identify and question ideas and beliefs that are limiting them in some way and don’t serve them well. I enlist clients to be co-detectives on the hunt for these beliefs that can impact emotional well-being and behaviours. They can be sneaky and hard to spot.
People have all kinds of ideas, expectations, and assumptions about seeing a psychologist and about therapy, without even knowing what they are.
Expectations of being judged, invalidated, rejected, abandoned, or controlled typically operate outside of consciousness. What words and images come to mind automatically when you think about counseling or therapy. Are they positive, neutral, or negative? Think about what experiences have influenced this. Perhaps direct previous experiences with therapy. If it’s new to you, then likely what you have heard from others and seen in the media has had an impact.
Based on my experience, here are ideas or beliefs that can interfere with either “getting out of the starting gate” to see a psychologist or making the best use of therapy once started. Think about the feelings and behaviours that might be associated with each. Don’t let these ideas get in your way. Time to challenge them. If you need help, feel free to discuss with me.
- Being in therapy means I’m crazy/weak. This can reflect harsh self-judgment and/or an expectation of such judgment from others. I see getting help as an act of courage.
- I should be able to handle things on my own. This is related to a common fear in our society of being somehow needy or dependent. Life just doesn’t work that way. We can’t do it alone.
- My therapist only cares because he/she is getting paid. This is common with individuals who have a history of neglect and can’t believe that they are worthy of genuine caring.
- You shouldn’t air your dirty laundry in public. Individuals who come from a family with rigid boundaries between the family and the world may feel guilty about talking to someone outside the family.
- The therapist can read my mind. I wish…then I’d never be wrong. This may be why no one talks to me at parties.
- There is a magic pill. This is the “quick fix” idea and it usually sets people up for disappointment and endless searching instead of looking inward.
- No one can help me; I’m too much for you. This usually reflects the sense of being a burden that comes with depression or history of trauma, invalidation for being “too emotional”, or need to be special.
- I’ll have to root around in the past. In my opinion, sometimes helpful, often not, and best determined by you with help from me.
- My issues aren’t important/serious enough. This one is fairly common. Sure we can always find someone who had or has it worse but does this really mean you don’t matter?
- I will fail at it. This one usually rears its head when we start talking action steps.
- I’ll have to spill my guts. I’ll help you take your time instead of letting you overwhelm yourself, go home and stew, and not come back. There are layers of stories and honesty that unfold over time.
- Therapy will rid me of “negative” feelings. Common for people who experience intense anxiety. I will help you feel all emotions well. Trust me, we need all our emotions.
- Focusing on my problems will make things worse. Common for people who use avoidance to cope. Sometimes facing things is the only way but how you do it is important. I’ll guide you.
- I don’t have a problem; others do. Sorry, I can’t do therapy with the world so I will gently guide you back to you.
- The therapist will fix me. This one comes from our typical experience in the medical system. This one leads to passivity instead of active collaboration.