In therapy, you’re whole world is open for discussion. But not to the real world.
You talk about your struggles and insecurities, personal and familial history, as well as the hopes and dreams you hold for the future. That’s because all of these various factors make up who you are, and in therapy you’re the sole focus of attention. The problem with it is that sometimes it get’s to be too much. It’s very difficult to have to introspect, let alone do it on a regular basis, and it doesn’t stop there.
Once you start therapy, those that know about it have a lot of questions. They want to know what you talk about, who your therapist is, what sort of reading material you get, the types of advice you’re given, and the kinds of issues you’re voicing. And on and on it goes. What’s worse is when the people who have all these questions start asking if you’re discussing them, because if you are, that’s a hard question to answer. Never mind that it’s completely unethical and rudely intrusive, it’s also horribly annoying.
No one likes to feel like they’re under a magnifying glass. No one.
But the most difficult question to answer is WHY you’re in therapy in the first place. The fact is, you can seem totally in control of your life, come off as cool, calm and collected, be the group leader in almost every setting, and seem like you don’t have a care in the world – but you’re actually breaking inside. The last thing you want is to have to explain your decision to seek help. And though you don’t actually owe anyone an explanation, you feel pressure to validate your choices, which is a really terrible position to be in. And you already have a long list of issues to work through.
Sometimes you get lucky. When someone finds out you’re in therapy, the way they treat you suddenly changes for the better. You get a lot of emotional and moral support, and you find your privacy is being respected, perhaps even more than usual. But then there are the negative changes. People start telling you their disapproving opinions about your decision, especially when you have absolutely no interest in hearing them. It makes you feel small and defensive, and generally pissed off.
What I discuss with my therapist in private is none of anyone’s bloody business!
What I want everyone in therapy to understand is that it’s your time, your money, and your therapy – so guard your privacy as you would guard your banking information. There is absolutely no reason you should have to explain yourself to anyone – be it your family, coworkers, friends, or random “psychologists” you meet on the street.
Therapy is for you to find and improve yourself, so that you can finally love and accept yourself. And it’s not an easy feat to accomplish. So, when you have others questioning your decision, giving you their intrusive opinions, or voicing some kind of disapproval, do yourselves a favor and ignore those people.
You’re in therapy because you have something to work through, and if they can’t deal with that, it’s not your problem.
Dear Therapist is an ongoing series of articles. Check out the other posts here!