Worries about therapy and coaching shouldn't keep you away.
Many of us love the holidays. Perhaps an equal number loathe them. Either way, they're filled with stress. Visiting one's dysfunctional family, or not seeing said family, giving or receiving the right gifts, being with a challenging partner or feeling alone are just a few of the issues that come up for us this time of year.
A surprising number of my psychotherapy clients tell me they worry that they won't have enough to talk about to fill the 45 minutes. My coaching clients sometimes have concerns about how well they're using the time. Many clients come to me saying how long they've waited before finally making the call to schedule an appointment with a therapist or life coach.
These are some of the specific concerns I hear and the reasons why they should NOT keep you from getting some help:
- My Issues Are Boring: Starting therapy or coaching does not mean you are entering a contest for who has the most interesting, exotic or unique life. Your difficulties, be they holiday concerns, boyfriend problems, problems with your sister, boss or children, are the stuff of therapy and coaching. Yes, people all over the world are fighting for freedom, suffering injustice and the like, but I'm there to guide you through your procrastination, insomnia or panic—not to end world hunger. During your session, your issues are the most important thing in the world for both of us.
- I Might Run Out Of Things To Say: Most people who worry about this never run out of things to say. If you do have trouble with what to say, it may be that you're editing yourself—deciding that you shouldn't talk about the thing that's really on your mind. I advocate saying whatever comes up for you and allowing the professional to decide what's important. After all, this type of work is a two-person gig. Your therapist/coach gets to do part of the work too. They will guide you through your session by seeking clarification and asking powerful questions.
- I'm Not Funny, Clever, Etc.: Your job as a client is not to entertain. I like a good laugh as much as the next person, but I do not expect you to provide a Tina Fey-like routine for me. If you did, how could we possibly get any work done? As a client, your job is to show up and be yourself. If you want to be funnier, that would be a great coaching goal, but it's not a requirement for being a client.
- I Know What I Need To Do: Of course you do, but clearly something is holding you back or you'd just do it. Whether it's leaving a partner, a job or returning to school, it may be difficult to accomplish for a variety of reasons. My job is to help you understand your reluctance to move forward, to support you in doing so and to provide the requisite nudge.
- I Don't Know What To Do: Of course you don't. If you did, you wouldn't need me to help you figure it out. This is another great reason to enter a helping relationship. Your problems may be difficult, but finding answers is at the heart of helping. Give me one psychologist and I'll guarantee you an almost infinite range of solutions for any given problem.
- I'm Not Sure I Can Change: A variation on this theme is being unsure you want to change. Both concerns are ubiquitous among therapy and coaching clients. We often think we want to do something, but we're also frightened of what might happen if we tried and failed, or if we actually succeeded. It's the professional's job to help you face your inner critic, fears and insecurities.
- Nothing Really Happened This Week: Really? Even when you talk about the small things that stick in your mind from the week, they usually tell the story of what's going on with you. You followed through on things we talked about last week, or you didn't. You thought about them more, or you blocked them out. Either way, your reflections on the week are useful and the springboard for exploring change.
Consider a gift to yourself this holiday season; talk to someone who can help you move ahead in your life.
Judith Tutin, Phd, ACC, is a licensed psychologist and certified life coach. Connect with her at drjudithtutin.com where you can request a free coaching call to bring more passion, fun and happiness to your life.