How to Overcome Fears of Your First Therapy Session
Have you ever contacted a therapist and booked a session but at the last minute you decided you couldn’t do it and didn’t show up? Maybe you keep calling to say that you are sick or working late, or you are cancelling the night before? There is no shame in being nervous about your first session, and many people tend to feel anxious about attending. It could be the fear of feeling ashamed, or you are nervous about opening up to a stranger. There are many reasons why you may be putting off your first therapy session, but all of which can be resolved.
Understanding that therapy is nothing to be embarrassed about can help you to accept that sharing your feelings with a professional could be the way forward. Once you have this realisation, you can find the confidence to attend your first therapy session and start the healing process. Read on if you need some more reassuring before taking the leap and going to therapy.
Fear of Feeling Shame
One of the most common reasons why people avoid therapy is because they are ashamed that they need help managing their feelings. Unfortunately, there is often a negative stigma attached to mental health and therapy. This can lead to people not seeking the help that they need as they don’t want their family and friends to find out and judge them. They don’t want others to see them as unable to solve their own problems, or even label them as ‘crazy’ or ‘weak’. It is this fear of being seen as worth less than others that can prevent people from attending their therapy sessions. Some people also struggle as they feel that if they attend therapy, they are admitting that they need professional help and they may not want to accept that.
But, you shouldn’t feel ashamed for choosing to go to therapy. People choose this path for a multitude of reasons whether it is for insight and self-awareness, or for help improving their quality of life. Just because you decide to go to therapy doesn’t mean that there is anything ‘wrong’ with you. If you really think you need to seek help, then you should put aside any thoughts of shame and just do it.
Fear of Being Judged
Many of my clients have told me after our first session that they were scared how I would react to their confessions and relieved that I didn’t judge them. While it’s sad to hear that they had been worrying, it is understandable. People usually come to therapy because of very personal problems and sharing this with an outsider can lead to a fear of being judged. Whether or not they are in the ‘wrong’, people can be scared of how other people will perceive them and their ‘issues’.
However, you shouldn’t be afraid of this. Counsellors strive to remain impartial and never place blame or judgement. They undergo specific training and understand how to create a safe and therapeutic environment. They know how to make you feel comfortable enough to share intimate thoughts and memories, and do their utmost to respond professionally and appropriately. They don’t bring their own biases or opinions into the sessions, and this should make it easier for you to share your inner feelings.
If you are still wary and afraid before your first session, then give your counsellor a call. Talking over the phone about your fears can help establish the relationship and inspire trust between you and your counsellor.
Fear of Opening Up
Opening up to a complete stranger can be hard. You may understand that they are professionals and won’t judge you, but it can still feel weird to share your feelings with someone you don’t know. But, surprisingly, the relationship between a counsellor and patient is beneficial for that exact reason. Counsellors serve as an outside perspective, unbiased and unaware of your emotions or concerns until you share them. This can help us to make the right decisions and give the right advice when necessary.
Some people may be afraid that counsellors are gossiping behind their back and talking about their sessions to others. But, this can’t and won’t happen. As a counsellor, they are ethically bound not to discuss anything from your sessions with others unless you permit them.
We know that sharing your inner thoughts and feelings can be harder for some people. So, counsellors will always be patient with you and let you decide when you want to share more of your feelings. Good counsellors will know how to respond to your discomfort and support you when opening up.
Fear of Confronting the Issue
Many people can try to put off the inevitable and avoid going to their first therapy session to avoid tackling their deeper issues. They may try to deny that they need outside help or convince themselves that they are getting better and happier by themselves. The fear of confronting the emotions that therapy may bring up can be overwhelming, and some people try to avoid or deny them at all costs.
Sometimes issues can resolve themselves over time. But this doesn’t always happen and seeking help in therapy is a good idea. If a problem doesn’t seem to go away, then you need to warm up to the idea of confronting the issue head-on. With a professional, this can be easier, and less intimidating, and the best way to help you to reach an understanding with your emotions or issues.
Therapy can help you to understand what it is holding you back, and how to overcome this effectively, but you need to recognise that most people experience the feelings of shame, fear and nerves, to get through your counsellor’s door. There are many reasons why you may avoid going to your first therapy session. Whether it is the fear of confrontation, opening up or feeling shame, it can deter you from the seeking professional help. But, hopefully, this blog has reassured you that speaking to a counsellor doesn’t need to be as scary as it seems. If you think you could benefit from talking to a counsellor, then contact me today.