It is normal to feel nervous when you are thinking of starting therapy. Our impression of what happens in a therapy office often comes from what we see in movies and TV. Fortunately, reality is a lot more pleasant. The following is a list of common fears people have before starting therapy.
1. I will have to reveal all my secrets.
New clients often worry that they will have to disclose their deepest and most embarrassing details of their life. I always encourage clients to share only as much as they feel comfortable. It is true, that honesty helps in therapy, but it is also true that trust takes time to develop. It is far better to share your life at a pace that you feel comfortable with.
2. People will think less of me for seeing a therapist.
Most people have heard the cliché that, “men won’t ask for directions – they would rather drive around lost for hours.” I would be lying, if I said I was not guilty of this myself from time-to-time. We laugh at this cliché, because we realize that it is better to ask for help when we need it, rather than endlessly struggle alone. I believe it is a sign of strength and maturity to seek help when it is needed.
Additionally, there are many different reasons that people come to therapy. Some people seek therapy when something in their life feels “stuck” in some way. However, many people come to “take their life to the next level.” These are people who have a good life, but who want things to be even better.
3. I will change into someone else.
Growth takes time to occur. Most people who are in therapy for some time, experience their change as “growth”. They are able to look back at their past experiences with new-found clarity. This is similar to how we matured when we were children. As each year passed, we saw ourselves and the world a little different.
4. Men in white coats will take me away.
Only in extremely rare cases, can someone be forced to get help against their will. This only happens if a person is actively planning to do serious physical harm to themselves or others. Even if a person is having suicidal thoughts; unless there is reason to believe that this person will carry those plans out in the near future, no one can force them to get help.
5. Someone will find out that I am in therapy.
Your confidentiality is essential for a client-therapist relationship and is very well protected by law. Nothing you say will ever be reveal to anyone. There are a few important exceptions as required by law. For example, I must make a report if I hear of a child being abused. Besides the specific cases mandated by law, there is no way for anyone to find out if you are in therapy. Even if someone calls my office and asks if you are a client, I do not reveal that information.
6. My therapist will be able to see through me.
Therapists have training and experience that helps them to be very insightful. This is what helps them be supporting and caring partner in people’s lives. However, none of them have special powers to see through people. In fact, I often find myself in awe of my client’s infinite and beautiful complexity.