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5 Things That Surprised Me About Going to Therapy

Surprising Things I Learned in Therapy

Beginning therapy can take courage, but having a meaningful relationship with your therapist is empowering. Here are five things that surprised me about going to therapy.

The benefits are comprehensive. Like a lot of people, I started meeting with a therapist for one specific reason. Soon, however, I realized my therapy sessions could help me in many areas of my life. Now I understand that therapists can help with all sorts of common issues, including relationship problems, a lack of assertiveness, low self-esteem, life transitions and juggling work responsibilities. We all experience day-to-day struggles and traumatic life events; my therapist has helped me develop effective strategies for coping with many of life's greatest challenges.

It's a real relationship. When I first began therapy, I thought the goal would be to unearth all my traumatic childhood events and troubling family dynamics. It didn't take long to see that the real healing power of therapy rested in the relationship I built with my therapist. This invaluable trust has allowed me to feel safe and comfortable talking about my goals, fears and thought patterns. We do investigate possible links between current circumstances and childhood events, however, this occurs on my terms and only when I feel up to it.

It doesn't have to last forever. Before I started therapy, I worried it would become a life-long endeavor that would only yield incremental benefits. Now I know that therapy can last a few sessions, a few weeks or several years, depending on a person's needs and goals. I know that therapy can help me when I'm struggling through big events. I also know I can take a break from it and return only when and if I feel I need to. I was also surprised to find that therapy began providing noticeable benefits from the moment I started opening up about my feelings.

It's more than just talking. When I began therapy, I expected endless discussions about my issues. I was surprised to find that my therapist was focused on helping me set goals, make positive changes and grow. Instead of staying stuck in never-ending discussions about "the problem," my therapist has helped me develop healthy strategies to overcome struggles and improve my well-being. We work together to create an action plan that will allow me to live my best life and escape the unhealthy thought patterns that used to stand in the way of my well-being.

It's a sign of strength. Like many other people, I delayed seeking therapy because I worried that seeking support might mean I was weak or flawed. Now I understand that it takes more strength to reach out than it does to passively stay stuck in a negative rut. When you consider that top athletes, executives, actors and even Nobel Prize winners leverage therapy to improve their lives, it shouldn't have been such a surprise. Still, it took me a while to take action and seek support for my struggles. Now I wonder why I ever waited so long.

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