4 Harsh Truths Real-Life Therapists Want You To Know About Therapy

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Most of us head to therapy in hopes that the therapist can fix what is broken within us.

We feel like they have the ‘magic pill’ that will snap us out of our funk or fix our deepest, darkest issues, enabling us to live our very best lives.

We know that something inside of us needs to change, but we are incapable of making those changes on our own.

Instead, we head to therapy with the loftiest of expectations, believing that the mental health professional will do the work to dig us out of whatever hole we’ve found ourselves in.

But if therapy is to work for you, there are some harsh truths you need to hear in advance. Knowing exactly what to expect will help to set you up for success.

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Here are four harsh truths your therapist wants you to know about therapy:

1. Your therapist is not going to give you orders.

"It's a harsh truth that it is not your therapist's job to tell you what to do. Many clients come to therapy confused about their lives and stuck in unhappy situations.

They hope that their therapist will listen to their story and tell them what they should do. This is not good therapy! Rather, your therapist will help you to sort through your options, guide you, and support whatever decision you think is right. Nobody knows you better than you know yourself and your therapist does not have to live with the consequences of your decisions.

Good therapy is exploration and support."

Mary Kay Cocharo, Couples Therapist

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"Adults in the United States are seeking therapy and mental health treatment at increasingly high rates. A recent survey by the American Psychological Association that surveyed doctoral-level, actively licensed professional psychologists in 2020 and 2021 found that referrals more than doubled over the course of the year — from 37% in 2020 to 62% in 2021.

In addition, almost 7 in 10 psychologists (68%) reported a longer waitlist to see patients in 2021 than the year before (APA, 2021). The greatest increases reported by therapists were from people seeking treatment for anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, and trauma or stress-related struggles (APA, 2021).

Yet, many people do not know some key realities of therapy. Here are the top 3 things that I would want to share with anyone interested in therapy:

2. Your therapist is not going to change you.

They are going to help you change yourself.

3. Therapy is hard work.

It requires a tremendous amount of consistent effort, commitment, and trust in the process with your mental health practitioner.

4. Therapy requires daily practice.

Sometimes people think that therapy means you give 1 hour a week to a mental health professional. However, to really change your life in a meaningful way, the real work explored in therapy is applied to your life in meaningful, active ways on a daily basis between sessions."

Dr. Cortney Warren, Board Certified Clinical Psychologist

The long and short of it is that your healing will not just be handed to you.

Therapy requires active participation and hard work on your end. And even after it’s over, you will need to implement what you’ve learned into your daily life. The purpose of it all is to provide you with the tools needed to make lasting changes that will help you to live up to your full potential.

RELATED: 10 Signs That Tell You It's Definitely Time To Go To Therapy

NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington. She covers lifestyle, relationship, and human-interest stories that readers can relate to and that bring social issues to the forefront for discussion.