A Leap of Faith!
So, it’s time to go to Therapy – not on everyone’s “top ten” list! It is also big leap of faith. Trusting someone else with your story, not knowing what they will think, unsure if they will understand.
Most of us have opened up about something to someone we know and felt judged, criticized or discounted. What if that happens again? (It won’t – that’s not therapy).
Or what if there is no hope? (Believe me, I see powerful change in people every day who originally came in thinking things could not get better.)
What’s the first session like?
Going to that first therapy session can be uncomfortable – that first step is a big one. I always tell my new clients “Ok, well you’ve found the office, that’s half the battle.”
Most people assume I’m talking about following the map on their phone. What I mean is that it takes a lot of courage to walk through the door.
However, most of what is scary about therapy for people isn’t true. This isn’t about you talking by yourself on the couch for hours or me “analyzing” you. Therapy is more of a conversation and a journey that we take together.
To start with, the first session is mostly me asking a bunch of questions. I will lead you through it, and you answer as much as you can. We won’t get to all of it, and most people don’t want to share absolutely every detail on that first day.
The first session is an overview, some background, and it gives us a picture of where we are and what you want to change going forward. We talk, you can ask questions, and we agree on a few concrete goals that we can start to move forward with.
Therapy is an amazing process…
So, we will work toward achieving practical goals. However, what never grows old for me is the therapy process itself. What is most amazing is the conversation and how talking about these things out loud with another human helps.
During therapy, we talk about what is real, being open, and then moments of insight arrive, realizations pop up that we never expected. Often clients say that they remembered something from therapy last week (sometimes things I don’t even remember!) – something that kept coming back and made them think about their lives in a different way, a comment or an observation that just clicked.
Our talks bring about new understandings. The process enables people to re-evaluate, digest, ferment ideas, arrive at new questions, figure out how things fit together. People start to be able to see life from a different perspective and find answers and strength they didn’t know they had.
Why can’t I just fix myself?
The reason most of us can’t “fix ourselves” is that our brains process information differently when we are talking out loud. It’s not enough, however, to talk it out with our self in the garage (although believe me, I try).
We also benefit from having someone to bounce ideas off, someone to reflect about how we are acting, someone to help us learn new skills, someone to help us tease out what we’re really thinking – beyond the rationalizations we tell ourselves to get through the day.
There is a power in genuine conversation and having a person you trust to work with you. For many, there is a power to know that there will be someone following up, someone invested in the goals we’re working toward together. We’re like a climbing team, if you don’t make it to the top of the mountain, I don’t make it to the top.
Aside from the therapeutic value of just having the conversation itself, I also focus on presenting you with information that I think will help. I teach practical skills that you can use.
We discuss techniques that really help people feel better and have healthier relationships. A lot of this information you can find in books, but there is a power to having someone you can discuss the work with that you are doing outside of the therapy session. It is good to be able to practice strategies and techniques and then come back the next week and discuss progress.
Therapy is like a hike up a winding path.
Sometimes we need a guide; sometimes it is just good to have someone else with us. Our conversation while in therapy is that trek up a steep mountain trail. It can seem daunting at first – it’s normal to wonder “How did I get myself into this?”
Then momentum builds, we get stronger and feel more confident. Every once and a while we get rewarded by new and fantastic views – how different the world looks!
It starts to feel good as we realize we can get farther than we thought we could. Whether it’s a hike, a walk, a marathon, or a sprint, we’re in it together – otherwise it doesn’t work.
I can tell you which trail I think would be best, I can give you input and information along the way. But you are in charge; you decide where we’re going and when we’ve reached the top!
Therapy is an extremely challenging, rewarding and surprising journey.
I am amazed at the answers people find within themselves every day. I am frequently in awe that I can share in in this transformational process with another human being.
When people are fully committed – willing to keep climbing that mountain even when it seems there is no summit – then truly incredible things happen. I can’t wait to start on that path with you also. Let’s go!
A Bit of Biographical Information
I’ve been a therapist for over 20 years with a bachelor’s degree in art from Luther College and a Master of Counseling degree from Arizona State University.
Before going into private practice, I worked in various settings: agencies, a hospital, non-profits, and intensive outpatient programs. I’ve been in private practice since 2001. This is my third private practice, which I started in Colorado in 2010. I love what I do and look forward to going to the office where I get to meet with people who inspire me every day.
I grew up in a small college town in Iowa and went to graduate school in Arizona. I met my wife in Colorado and then we moved around for a lot for school and jobs, but finally returned to where we truly feel at home. Sometimes we can’t believe we ever left.
We have twin 13-year-old boys who inevitably find new ways to challenge us and keep us busy. When I’m not at one of my kids’ sporting events, I’m likely to be barbecuing in the backyard on my charcoal grill. When not in the office, I can often be found with our dog Gizmo out on a hiking trail, watching hockey on tv, or in the basement playing guitar.