3 Tips for Being Honest in Therapy
Being honest in therapy is much easier said than done. Even though we go to therapy because we want help, there may be certain things we've never discussed with anyone, let alone a complete stranger. Or if you're like me, it's not that you don't want to be honest, it's that you get all turned around in your head the moment you walk into the office and completely forget what you were going to say. For others, you may never have had a person you could truly be honest with, and now you aren't sure how to go about it.
All of this makes total sense, and if you find yourself holding back or not being honest in therapy for whatever reason, know that you are in very good company. Opening up can be really hard, but the more honest we are with our therapists (and ourselves), the more we actually get out of therapy. So I've collected a few tips to help.
How to Help Yourself Be Honest in Therapy
1. Write down what you want to talk about ahead of time.
This tip has made therapy so much more beneficial for me. Writing down what you want to talk about in therapy, either as a bulleted list or a rambling diatribe, can be incredibly helpful. First, it allows you to confront your issues in the safety of your home. Therapy is meant to be a safe space, but it doesn't always feel that way, especially at the beginning. Bringing up a new topic can be shockingly difficult and terrifying, but bringing notes can help. Second, writing things down before you go in can help if you tend to go nonverbal. When I get particularly upset, I clam up and genuinely cannot speak. In those cases, I can just hand my notes to the therapist so the therapist knows what I'm thinking, even if I can't say it.
2. Tell the therapist you might have some trouble being honest.
If you can't tell your therapist all the things you want to, and you know that you struggle with that, tell the therapist. This is a great way of being honest without having to open too many boxes you'd rather keep closed for now. If he or she is a good therapist, he or she won't push you to share before you're ready but will pay close attention not only to what you're saying but also to what you're not saying. I know that can sound scary, but you're in therapy for a reason. Remember, you want to grow and feel better, and that's going to require a certain degree of vulnerability. It's okay if that takes time, but admitting that you struggle with it and asking for help is a great step toward getting what you need and being honest in therapy.
3. Reward yourself any time you manage to be honest in therapy.
For some reason, rewards in adulthood are seen as childish or unnecessary, but for many of us with mental illness, it's so important that we reward ourselves for a job well done. We're so used to our brains berating us and letting us down, any time we get a win, that win should be celebrated and all our hard work rewarded. Whenever you manage to be honest in therapy, make sure you reward yourself after. Get some ice cream, go home and take a well-deserved nap, allow yourself to spend time on a hobby you've been neglecting, or simply repeat positive affirmations to yourself, like "I opened up, and that is good."
Try these tips and see that being honest in therapy has its benefits. Do you have any tips to add?
Griffith, M. (2019, May 21). 3 Tips for Being Honest in Therapy, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2019/5/3-tips-for-being-honest-in-therapy
Author: Megan Griffith