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What to expect from counseling, therapy, psychotherapy, and coaching posted Feb 3, 2018


I now completely understand what people meant by saying that Wake Forest is a special place and we would love it there. Coming from a very hectic and traffic packed Northern Virginia/DC area, I can truly appreciate a place like Wake Forest -with it’s small town charm and an easy access to a larger Triangle Metropolitan area (and everything Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill have to offer).

I love people who live here, in Wake Forest as well. They seem kind, friendly, open-minded, and not shy when it comes to talking about personal successes and struggles. Instead of just complaining (without finding a resolution) or keeping things to themselves when things get tough, people are both progressive and proactive. They try to take good care of their mental and physical health. They want to be happier. They work hard for their self actualization and dreams.

As a mental health therapist, I love seeing this amazing shift in people’s mentality-from that old stigma of mental illness and not wanting to bring their “business “outside of the family to taking real responsibility for our own happiness and our own personal development. So, today, I wanted to celebrate these brave people who are fighting for their peace and happiness. I also wanted to invite others who might be interested in mental health services but know very little about them and, are, naturally, unsure of how they can help them. Like always, to make this information more digestible and easy to understand, I broke it down to 3 parts. Let’s dive in.

It will get worse before it will get better.

If you are like me, you would rather hear bad news first. Because you can enjoy the good news later if you leave it for last. And you won’t be too sad. Well, you will still be sad, but less sad. Also, if you are like me, you would rather hear the sad truth than the sugar coded buls***   lie. Right? I thought so. So, here it is-for most clients things will get worse before they will get better. Ouch, that doesn’t sound good. What does it mean for you? It means that because therapy is a process where we discuss very sensitive and vulnerable information, you will probably hate it. Not throughout the whole time you work with your therapist, but for a long time. You will also dread coming to therapy. You will call your therapist and try finding stupid excuses for why you can’t make it this week. My clients say things like:

I couldn’t sleep the whole night and can’t make it ”

“I forgot we have an appointment today”

“I forgot it’s Tuesday today.”

Ha, seriously, man? I think this is a good time for me to mention that I do not work with kids (if you are wondering). My clients are couples and adults-smart, accomplished, and really motivated. And I do want to let you that this behavior is completely normal and expected. Why? Because people don’t like feeling uncomfortable. We didn’t grow up talking about sad emotions and we are just not used to it. We naturally want to avoid it. Plus, most of my clients don’t like crying, especially in the beginning of their therapy journey when the therapist is still a stranger whose job is to make you feel very vulnerable. Bad combination. But good news is that therapy room happens to be the perfect place to discuss these sort of issues. So, if you dread coming to therapy, talk about it with your counselor, psychologist, or therapist. If you are not sure whether therapy is even helping you to feel better, talk about it. If you don’t like your therapist’s direct style and pushy nature, talk about you. Do you get a point here? Therapeutic process is a continuous reciprocal interaction and both parties need to be active participants for the it to work. I can’t read my clients’ minds and I don’t expect them to read mind too. So, let’s talk about it. Worse comes to worse, your therapist will refer you out to another trusted colleague in hope that it will be a better fit. But in most cases, this type of an honest exchange between you and your counselor leads to all kinds of important doorways and can totally transform your life.

Therapy will not fix you, you will fix you.

Many clients ask me if I am going to tell them what to do and give them advice. A short answer to that question is “no.” I do not tell my clients what to do neither do I give them advice because my life and my perspective is different that theirs, hence my choices and opinions would be irrelevant. Do you know that old saying that goes something like this: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” Cheesy, but trueJ So, sadly, there are no quick fixes and short cuts to your happiness, YOU have to take and experience this journey yourself. You have all the answers you need within you already, and my job is to help you find them (by teaching your tools, techniques, and just by the virtue of the therapeutic relationship). You just have to be committed, work hard, and trust the process. Because nothing worth having in life is easy. You worked hard to be healthy, to get your education, to prosper in your career. Your relationships and mental health is no different.

You will cry a lot.

Most of my clients find themselves balling during sessions. They don’t like it, of course, but I do. Why? Because that means they are working really hard through their issues. They are pushing through them over and over again, they are processing their difficult memories and emotions, they are touching their pain. I always tell my clients that “you have to make contact with your pain in order for the pain to shrink.” True story, and if you don’t believe me, read more about science. Therapy should not feel good. Therapy should be challenging. And crying is one of the easy ways to get rid of all of your toxic stress hormones built up in your body, by the way. Another way is sweating. So, it’s your choice-go for a sweaty run or come see me. When I shared this with my client the other day, she responded with “So if I go for a run and make myself cry during it, will it help me feel better faster?”

Even after the session is over, you might cry. For one or two days. Especially in the beginning. We call it vulnerability hangover. You know the kind of hangover you experience after you open up about very deep stuff and feeling super exposed? Don’t worry, it won’t last forever, and you can talk about it with your therapist. You see the pattern here? Because you are the client, you have a lot of power to direct our treatment and goals. I will just make sure we stay on track and being productive.

I hope this helps you understand better what to expect from therapy, counseling, psychotherapy, and coaching in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

300 PointsSilver

Irina Baechle

/ Indivual and Couples Therapist / LCSW