“People come to therapy with their own assumptions about what would it involve, despite being reminded about confidentiality “
When people come to my clinic for consultation I offer to shake their hands and ask them to take a seat. Some look anxious and say “this is my first time at a psychiatrist clinic so I don’t know what I should say”.
I answer “how about we start by you telling me your name and where you study or work? Then you say what made you come for therapy.” For most people this would be enough to get them ready to talk, only a few people would still be reluctant to open up by now so I let them relax and ask them to start when they feel ready.
Understandably people come to therapy with their own assumptions about what would it involve, some would be worried about discussing personal things with a stranger therefore I remind people that our session is bound by confidentiality and what every note I take is to remind me about their symptoms when they come for future visits.
Others fear they may be judged especially when they have a problem that is embarrassing to discuss or even acknowledge. Some people come with their parents, partners or siblings in that case I would ask the client if he or she prefers to see me alone and even when they says he does not mind the presence of his family I make a point preserving time for consultations where I ask the family to wait outside so I can talk to the client alone in case they wish to discuss personal matters but feel intimidated by their family.
The client therapist relationship is a critical one and we often read about common myths people have about therapy and what it includes, psychologists summarize these myths in the following points :
1. People who seek psychotherapy are weak or crazy.
This is not true, many people seek consultations for their struggle with relationships, self-doubt, confidence, self-esteem, work-life stress, life transitions, depression and anxiety. Such people are actually brave as they admit having problems and take steps to solve them.
2. Therapists sit behind desks taking notes while you lie on a couch.
This myth probably stems from the old movies while in reality both clients and therapists sit in comfortable chairs without barriers between them. I usually take a few notes and remain attentive to what the client is saying.
3. Therapists and clients become best friends.
The therapeutic relationship is kept strictly professional. Being friends with your client can be harmful as it may bias the advice you give them. A therapist is being kind and supportive mainly because it’s his job and not trying to be your friend.
4. Your therapist will make you talk about your childhood
This applies to very few types of therapy as the majority of psychology therapies focus on here and now. Others would target specific behaviors or thought patterns that are disturbing and work with you to address them.
The therapist does not have a magic stick and would not make you do things against your wishes. Finally , whatever the reason that makes you consult a therapist , remember that it is a brave step toward bettering yourself and seeking help and advice for your problem instead of denying them, so stay brave and carry on.