So It’s session 1 with your therapist, you sit in the waiting room about fifteen minutes before your appointment time. You’re a little nervous, but you know it’s finally time to sort through all your issues. Everyone on TikTok says that therapy is the holy grail of solving your problems, and you’re ready to take that step.
Fast Forward to the end of session two, you walk out a little disappointed as therapy hasn’t been exactly what you expected. You wonder if you should say something, but you hold this thought back and try to be patient.
You and your partner come home from session, and you’re arguing again three days later. It seems that all you do is argue more since you started couples therapy. You’d think after six sessions, things would be better. You talk with your partner, and they feel the same way. You both discuss canceling your next session, and not returning to therapy.
You’ve been seeing your therapist for a few months and things seem to be slowing down. You love therapy and want to continue, but you recognize the need for fresher topics. Your therapist also continues to acknowledge your hard work and improvement; he then discusses tapering down to a monthly basis, and coming to a close as you have completed most of your treatment plan. Internally, you disagree. Actually, you want more of what you had initially, and you need more support than ever. However, your therapist knows best, so maybe you can handle these things on your own.
What do all these scenarios have in common?
All these clients seem to have something to say to their therapist. Maybe you are the client that feels like their therapist isn’t meeting your expectations, or the couple that is frustrated with uncomfortable topics causing more conflict; you may even be the client who wants to see more of what worked in the beginning. Do these descriptions sound familiar? These are all feelings that we experience in personal relationships whether it be with friends, coworkers, family, or significant others. Do you ever wonder what happens when we begin to look at the therapeutic relationship as just that, a relationship?
Looking at therapy through this lens, we begin to realize that the therapist is not this omniscient being that perceives all but is another human that you interact with on a regular basis. In this perspective, therapy becomes a replica of how you show up for others in your life. Maybe you choose the silent route when others upset you or don’t meet your expectations. Maybe you end relationships with little communication. Maybe you struggle to advocate for what you need at work or in a romantic relationship.
All of sudden, when seeing therapy this way, we begin to look at ourselves with more depth and realize our communication habits. Therapy itself becomes treatment as we now have controlled opportunities to see what happens when we communicate differently. Maybe when you confront your therapist, they empathize with you, and it strengthens trust. Maybe you still decide to end with your therapist, but now, you have ended a relationship in a healthy and positive way: no awkwardness, no avoidance, and no burned bridges, just new paths on how to navigate relationships in the outside world. Clarifying our needs in session gives you a voice and initiative in your healing process. Taking opportunities to practice behavioral change in therapy may allow you more confidence to cultivate healthier relationships in life.