This is the introduction to Starting Therapy: A Book For New Therapy Clients to be released November 13th.
Most people enter therapy with a vague sense that it might be worthwhile.
We meditate to become calm, we work out to gain strength and live longer. We all have a pretty good understanding of how things like meditation and exercise work. But how does therapy work?
In therapy, we want to relieve our suffering, break patterns, and change into the people we know we are but just can’t seem to be. What is not always clear is how these changes might occur.
For myself, I had no idea of what might actually happen in therapy when I began.
Now, many years later, I have some understanding of the range of possibilities available in therapy. Of what can be accomplished. Of what could happen for you. But I don’t know everything about your therapy. Of how it might be for you. You’ll craft your own experience. This book is just a nudge at the beginning of it all.
Therapy is a strange thing in a way. And not at all in another.
Conversation comes naturally to most humans. We long for it and we seek it out.
A gifted therapist who is the right fit for you can help you change your life. Together you can discover possibilities, feel the pain that has been bottled up, and wonder together at the human condition.
To begin therapy is to start a new relationship. Possibly one of the most important of your life.
This book outlines many things that may help you as you begin therapy.
But I have a serious caveat to everything I am about to say.
Imagine a book on dating with a set of rules. Many such books exist. What use is this? Most people in a long-term relationship will tell you that what makes a relationship successful is identifying what works for the two parties in the relationship and their own unique way of being together – not an external set of rules. A rules-based approach to finding love and staying in love leads to anxiety and a prolonged period of masking on both parties. A lifetime partnership is formed in a myriad of ways. A book may give you an insight or framework that is helpful but the relationship is yours.
So too therapy. Therapy is a relationship. This book outlines some ideas and resources for the relationship. The intention is not to provide a set of rules by which you measure your own therapy or therapist. The intention is to shed light on various areas that could be helpful for you to think about. But it is your path. You and your therapist’s.
When you have done some work in therapy you will come back to this book and say – she was wrong about this, and, I wish I had noticed this chapter…. And if you are reading this now as an experienced patient you will see yourself in it in places and you won’t in others.
I hope this book (and this blog) stimulates your thinking. I hope you ask your therapist many, many questions. And I hope you ask yourself a fair number too.
I believe that this world would be a richer, and more compassionate place if therapy was better understood and more widely practiced. I write this book in the hopes of supporting the practice of digging in and working through. Of breaking cycles and patterns and starting anew. Of loving this life and this world for the wonder that it is.