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6 Common Fears About Starting Therapy

Let’s address what scares you before going to therapy.

Going to therapy for the first time is a bold step and it might elicit some strong feelings. These apprehensions are expected, and they accompany the process of entering therapy.

Let’s address some common fears about starting therapy.

1. "I won’t be able to deal with the strong feelings that emerge."

Sometimes, we are not taught how to deal with emotions constructively. Rather, most of us might be repressing emotions instead of expressing them. Thus, going to therapy would probably bring up strong emotions and feelings. However, it is totally normal to feel them as you have already unconsciously started your therapy the moment you made the decision to go. The feelings, such as fear, anger, shame, and so on are waiting to be addressed, so they start to make themselves obvious. You don’t need to feel alarmed by their presence. By contrast, many first-timers show emotional relief when they start therapy because their strong feelings are finally getting addressed.

2. "A therapist can't help me, and in fact, nobody can."

Granted, therapists are human and have their limitations, both personal and professional. In rare cases, a therapist is not able to help. Sometimes therapy is redundant, or the person might need coaching or psycho-education, or a psychiatrist is needed. However, the first therapist can become a useful connection to the help that you really need. Even if they can’t help, perhaps they can recommend someone who they think will be right for you. Perhaps their supervisor can advise them on who can help or how they themselves can better help. Perhaps you found a great therapist, but they are overbooked — you can still reach out and ask for recommendations. Many people do not give therapy a chance due to not being able to open up to it and give it a chance. In addition, some anxious people perceive the fact that some specific therapist is unable to help as a personal rejection, and they might abandon further attempts to seek a new therapist. The pain of rejection in this case can be too high, especially when what initially brings many people to therapy is trauma from rejection. In this case, I would like to encourage you to not give up.

3. "I'll hate my therapist and ruin it."

You might develop strong negative feelings toward your therapist early on. Does that mean they are unprofessional or that the therapy is not productive? Not necessarily. Sigmund Freud, the pioneer of talk therapy, described the notion of transference that occurs in therapy sooner or later. It is a way of communication by which we tell the therapist about our condition. In this case, the hate or strong anger might not be evoked by the therapist but is directed to some other significant figure in your life and manifests in the presence of your therapist. The occurrence of transference of any strong feelings toward the therapist is actually welcomed in therapy, because it’s a sign that the client feels confident and safe enough to bring them into the therapeutic environment. Sometimes it is hard to talk about these feelings, but it really helps when they are discussed as they provide deep insight into your condition.

4. "It won’t be easy."

Therapy is about balance. If you are not feeling somewhat uncomfortable in therapy, something is not right. Therapy is about changing things and overcoming challenges. Sometimes, the therapist and the client establish an unconscious pact — the therapist doesn’t challenge them or go to places that feel uncomfortable to the client, and the client just does the “required” part: attends, pays, and talks. In this case, therapy may appear as happening on the surface, but the deeper work is actually sabotaged by both sides. At the same time, if therapy is devoid of happiness, something is wrong. As a client, you need to be able to experience satisfaction from yourself and find resources, sources of joy, and so on, while not denying the importance of facing the difficulties that brought you to therapy in the first place. So, again, therapy is about balance and a good therapeutic process is immensely satisfactory.

5. "I don’t know what to talk about or I'm embarrassed to open up."

Therapy is a process that builds up gradually. You are not expected to come and immediately talk openly about what is bothering you and find solutions. One of the most therapeutic methods at the beginning is to help the client feel comfortable and be in contact with the therapist and with themselves. Learning to reach this comfort is learning to trust. Once you feel comfortable enough to trust, you will open up little by little. In psychodynamic therapies (exploring the “here-and-now”), the therapist follows the client. Therefore it is you, as the client, who will define to what extent you are currently ready to open up and what subjects you feel confident enough to bring for discussion. Addressing the feelings that are not allowing you to talk about what is important to you, such as embarrassment, is also part of therapy, but it does not need to come forcefully. It will come naturally when you are ready.

6. "The therapist is mainly just interested in my money."

Some people believe that therapists are only there for them for the sake of money. This apprehension is common for people who bring the subject of being used in life. There are some unscrupulous people in any profession, however, the therapy profession usually draws people who care about other people. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to deal with all the suffering that people bring to them. Imagine simultaneously seeing 15 to 30 clients with different issues, ranging from emotional suppression to trauma and addiction to suicidal ideation. One needs to have a high inner motivation to continuously deal with these difficulties, and money by itself is not a sufficient factor.

Fears about starting therapy are natural and understandable. If you treat them as fears, not as self-inflicted pessimistic determinations that “nothing will help me,” your therapeutic journey is expected to be more positive and supportive. After all, even though finding the right therapist might take time, eventually finding them is like finding a trusted dentist, insurance agent, mechanic, or accountant — they will be with you for the rest of your life when you need them.

I hope this has been helpful and will lower your anxieties in the search for a therapist who is right for you.


Yalom, I. (2017). The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients (Paperback).

Gabbard, G. O. (2017). Long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy: A basic text (3rd rev. ed.). American Psychiatric Publishing.

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