Therapy's Hard

By Jen Scott, LMFT, MS

Sometimes a few sessions into therapy, clients will ask questions like, “Will I always feel this way?” “How long until therapy feels like it is really working?” or “Why isn’t my husband or wife getting it yet?” Basically they are soliciting the question, “Is there anyway to make this go faster?” My response is usually something along the lines of, "well yeah, if I had the magic solution, I’d be living on a yacht right now making billions." However, in the instant gratification culture we live in today, it’s not surprising that our clients desire some quick, easy fix. Just like in the fitness industry folks are looking for that workout that will give them six pack abs with one simple exercise or that diet that will allow them to lose 15 pounds in one week. Of course, we are seeing the same angst for quicker results in the therapy room. 

Unfortunately, the hard part with therapy is that a lot of the time, well usually most the time, things get harder before they get easier. Think about it, when entering into pain and attempting to make sense of difficult symptoms, it does not feel so great. And if therapy is a new concept for someone, it may feel especially uncomfortable. The trick of therapy is to fully enter into those feelings, experience them, spend time with them, and validate them. As with working out, it would be really nice to bypass the pain, but the only way to get to the other side is to go through the pain. We often see this with couples who want to just move forward and not address all the things that have been swept under the rug. Sure, it would be really nice to pretend those things don’t exist or didn’t happen, but the reality is that they need to be addressed. They need to be talked about in order to gain true healing. This allows future connection to be real and fulfilling.

To make this blog a bit less depressing, I will say that entering into the pain and building your tolerance for it is a truly powerful experience, and it's a lot more doable than you think. I watch client after client come in apprehensive of diving in and then leave feeling so relieved that they took the risk to open up. Similar to slowly entering into a hot tub, for lack of a better analogy, being in the heat becomes more tolerable as time goes on. You need to warm up to it. Here at CCST we aren’t going to ask you to jump right in and be okay with it. We’re trained professionals who are slowly going to take you through the motions. Part of our job is to be in check with how you are feeling and not take you any further than what you are ready for. As with anything else in life, experience helps. In time you’ll look back and what was once scary to you, you won’t even think twice about doing. Additionally, in the process your skill set will grow as you push yourself through new challenges. 

I recently ran my first marathon a couple months ago. I swore I would never do it. I did not grow up running- it really was not my favorite activity- but back in grad school to save some money I started running outside instead of paying for a gym membership. Years ago when I started running did I think I was going to run a marathon? Heck no! That would have been the last thought in my mind. But I kept getting out there. I learned more about the art of running, invested in some good shoes, took it really slow until I could handle faster paces. Looking back, I can’t really explain how I got to the point where I was able to complete a full marathon. It’s been a process, but I don’t think I would have ever wanted to expedite this, at times painful, journey, because there was so much to learn and experience along the way. The same is so true about therapy. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, you won’t feel like going to session every week. But one day, you’ll look back and be so grateful you hung in there.