- Clients can learn to embody the qualities that make them brave in therapy and life.
- Going into a therapy session with a collaborative spirit assists the client and the therapist.
- It's essential for clients to be curious about their problems, flexible in their approaches, and open to the process.
Deciding to go to therapy can be the scariest thing in the world. It takes real courage to notice you want to change something. And it takes real courage to make that first call or email a step towards healing. You are already partway there by reading this article.
In my years as a therapist, I’ve seen several qualities that embody courage. Even when people struggle with mental illness, relationship difficulties, or want to improve their lives, these qualities shine through.
It’s easy to assume that these traits are innate, but you can learn to embody the qualities that make you brave in therapy — and your life.
Here are four essential qualities of people who bravely approach therapy.
Therapy is a process that requires collaboration between two people. Just like the client cannot do all the work, the therapist can’t do all the work alone either. It takes a reciprocal relationship, the openness of both parties, and good communication.
View therapy as a partnership between you and your therapist. Your therapist might ask you to try new things, and this requires your cooperation. In turn, your therapist relies on you to let them know if you aren’t yet ready to try a technique or when something isn’t working.
Ultimately, you and your therapist are working together to help you live the life you want.
Processing Experiences by Being Open
When you start therapy, it can feel excruciating to open up to someone, especially a brand new person you don’t yet know. And yet, the unfair truth is that’s exactly what you’re asked to do in therapy.
We know that holding it all inside only makes things worse. Many treatments work through processing and discussing parts of your life and internal experiences that are challenging.
It takes real courage to open up, and your life will be better for it.
Flexibility Can Be Learned
Many problems — anxiety, eating, depressive disorders — are maintained by rigid (i.e., inflexible) thinking and behaving. Most people find themselves stuck in patterns of thinking and behaving that make their life harder. To change these difficulties, flexibility is needed.
Flexibility is an openness to change. It is learning to adapt. It doesn’t require getting everything right, but it does require trying something new. You can’t change old patterns by continuing them. You can change patterns by slowly chipping away at them by making small changes and doing something different. Flexibility can be learned, but it takes practice. Ultimately your life will be better for it.
Curiosity to Learn
Curiosity is a critical helper in therapy. Curiosity is the desire to learn. It is a willingness to look inside yourself with the help of your therapist.
Curiosity in therapy gives you the ability to question. If we look at our challenges with curiosity rather than judgment, we can figure out what is going on and how to change it. We can have hope.
In therapy, ask questions.
- What thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are driving my difficulties?
- How can I become an expert on my problem so I can change it?
- What things can I change, and what things do I have to accept?
When you look at your difficulties from a bird’s eye view with a willingness to learn, you give yourself space to grow.
We Can All Be Brave
If you’re considering therapy, use these qualities to be brave. Show up in the therapy space with your full self, ready and willing to do necessary hard work. This willingness will serve you in all areas of your life — both inside and out of the therapy space.
LinkedIn image: SeventyFour/Shutterstock