Making the Commitment to Therapy

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Making the Commitment to Therapy:

    In order for therapy to be a successful undertaking for you, you have to be willing to commit yourself to the process. You can expect to have painful sessions. You may have conflicts with your therapist and you will relate to your therapist the same way you relate to others in your life. Things that you find dissatisfying in others are bound to come up in your relationship with your therapist as well. Truthfully, if they don't, you may not be getting everything out of therapy that you should be. In order to work through interpersonal issues, you have to be committed to making your therapy work. This means that you will have to discuss your feelings about therapy with your therapist, communicate dissatisfaction with therapy if it arises, discuss conflicts or hurt feelings with the therapist when you feel the therapist has done something that upset you, etc. This is a different interaction than working with a doctor or other healthcare provider, because therapy is about relating. Therefore, you relate with the therapist as well and in this relationship, your interpersonal issues will come up in therapy. This is important. So, in order for you to get everything out of therapy, you have to make the commitment to the whole process of therapy, including sticking it out even when you don't feel like it or you are upset with your therapist. Make sense?     

    This is also why it is so important to chose your therapist carefully, because you are committing to the whole process. You are committing yourself to the therapeutic relationship with the goal that making changes in this relationship will positively benefit all of your life relationships in the present and in the future. It is a learning process and working in therapy gives you the chance to practice with someone whose focus is just on you. It is the most unique relationship you will ever have in your life because it is more about you and you alone than it is about you and the therapist together, but at the same time it is also about your relationship with the therapist too. Make sense?

When you chose a therapist, you are committing yourself to the following:

bulletTherapy must be a priority for you in order for it to work.  
bulletBe determined to communicate with your therapist open and honestly, especially about issues that you have with the therapy itself or with your therapist. This is critical!
bulletCommit to the process of being uncomfortable and not knowing. Therapy is all about going into unknown territory and exploring the secrets hidden in the closet.
bulletBe aware that you may have problems in your life temporarily while going through the process of therapy due to painful material being examined. Prepare for these times and use your therapist for additional support during these times.
bulletUse what you learn and commit to applying it in your life. Your therapist will teach you new skills to help you. Change is never easy or comfortable. Be committed to being uncomfortable so you can be happier.
bulletBe committed to being open and honest. This is the only way therapy will be successful.
bulletTell your therapist about the things you want to hide. I have a rule of thumb, if you really don't want to tell me something, that is the very thing we should be talking about! Take the step and bring it out.
bulletIf you decide that you do not want to continue therapy, don't just stop coming. Go through the process of termination. It is important!
bulletTherapist is all about trust. If you stop trusting your therapist, this is critical for your therapist to know. Talk about it right away.
bulletTherapy is a business relationship. You are paying for a service. Respect this relationship, however, because it is an intimate relationship as well as a business relationship, you will be interacting in the relationship differently than other business relationships. Take some time to understand what this means to you and how it will impact your feelings about going to therapy.
bulletYou are agreeing to go places in your psyche that you have not allowed yourself to do before. At times you will want to avoid this because it hurts. This is natural. That is why sticking it out and communicating is so important. In order to do the work, you have to commit to the process. Without the commitment, therapy is going to be very dissatisfying for you.
bulletLastly, and most importantly, in a commitment to therapy, you are making a commitment to change. If you have a history of suicide attempts, aggression towards others, or other dangerous behaviors, you must commit to not doing these things while in therapy. Therapy is about learning alternative ways to handle these feelings and impulses. If you continue acting out in dangerous ways, I cannot safely work with you and will need to refer you. Otherwise I am only acting as a part of the problem for you and this will be harmful to you, not helpful.

    Therapy is not easy. This is important to understand up front. You will feel it is helping you usually, but there will be times when you doubt it, because therapy takes time. Problems do not arise overnight. They come up over time. Therefore, problems will not be resolved overnight either. That is why therapy takes time. Commit yourself to the process and to taking the time required of you to make the changes in your life that you seek.