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Am I ready for therapy?

Being in doubt about whether or not you are “ready” for therapy, is a very common feeling, and as a client you can experience “cold feet” or doubts about your decision when starting therapy. But before giving in to the feeling and cancelling, keep reading here for ideas and thoughts about how to handle doubt in therapy.

If you experience uncertainty about starting therapy, it’s a good idea to look for the reason behind that doubt. Maybe you feel that there are so many different things you want to talk about, and figuring out where to start seems overwhelming. Or you might not be used to the thought of being in therapy or talking openly about your emotions and private life. You might not feel sure if what you are bringing to the session is fitting for therapy, or if you are better off seeking help somewhere else. Or you might feel pressured to go by someone in your life or have fear that you can disappoint someone close to you, if you don’t go.

Whichever is the case, the first thing you should know, is that all of these thoughts are completely okay to have, and they don’t have to be taken as an indication at all that you are not “ready” for therapy. It will always be your decision alone to be in therapy, as well as your decision to not go or stop going. And either way it’s completely alright. To address your feelings about therapy or any doubts you might have, it’s a good idea to be open with your therapist about it. That way you can try to figure out together how you experience being “ready”. Often people find out that there is no topic too big or too small to bring up. And if something feels important for you to bring up, most likely it’s because it is important.

Another good thing to remember, is that therapy starts being effective when the client opens op. The therapist will never be a mind reader, and is not able to provide any real help if you as a client are not involved. That being said, it can be challenging for many to talk openly about their inner life. Partly because it might be difficult to find the right words describing what you experience, and because it can take time to build up the trust and confidence that allows sharing it to feel easy. Again, it’s a good idea to be open with your therapist about what is going on – for instance letting them know if you find it hard to fully trust them, or if you are struggling to find the right words.

It might also be the case, that you have doubts about what it requires of you to be in therapy. One significant aspect to remember, is that the more you are engaged in the process, the more you are likely to get out of it as well. The therapist is there as a guide, but in reality, it is you as the client who is doing the hard work. You can easily attend therapy sessions, but without implementing anything and without creating any real change in your life. And maybe that is exactly what you need right now, a place to vent and talk aloud about life, but without feeling that you are in a place where you want change. It’s always up to you to decide how you want to make use of the therapy. Normally we will check in during each session, to make sure if we need to adjust any homework, if you feel change is happening and if the goal of therapy has changed. The more you apply yourself during the sessions, keep up with any exercises to do at home and incorporate your insights from the therapy sessions, the more you are also likely to evolve. If you are not in that place right now, but you still want to take to someone, you are of course still welcome exactly like that. Just know that conversation alone is a tool, but not the cure.

How to feel more ready for therapy:

  • Practice talking openly to someone close to you, to gain experience putting your feelings into words

  • If talking about private things is too overwhelming, or you don’t currently have someone in your life you feel comfortable talking to, try writing it down instead. It will also give you practice in describing your experience, and maybe also make it clearer to you what is at the core of things

  • Write down the topics you would like help with in therapy. The clearer it is for you to see what change you are looking for, the easier it will also be to adjust the therapy to provide that change

  • Take small steps and set reasonable goals. Setting out to solve all problems in life at once can easily end up overwhelming you and demotivate you. But a “small step” in the right direction, such as booking a session, or noticing how a certain pattern appears in your life, can seem more doable. And a goal such wanting more calmness in your everyday life, can feel more achievable than for instance being rid of any anxiety. You are also welcome to try out a few different therapists before deciding which one you are more comfortable with. Just as you can limit therapy to a specific topic until you feel ready to talk about the rest

  • Once you have started therapy, it’s beneficial to be honest – speak up if you don’t feel understood, if you don’t feel any effect and when you feel an effect. Honest feedback will help your therapist helping you

  • Be patient – therapy can take time and change comes in waves. You might experience any significant changes for a while, and the suddenly a big shift happens. That is normal. Allow yourself to heal at your own pace

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