One of the things I really appreciate about the therapist I’m currently seeing is how absolutely clear she is with expectations – both for myself and for her.
I told her that another piece of my hesitation around the beginning of sessions comes from my fear of being disappointing. I explained that I feel like I couldn’t keep up with the pace of my old therapist. And Zooey…well, she invited me to share, then got overwhelmed by it, then became disappointed when I stopped “opening up as much in session.” I feel like I disappointed both of them.
This therapist said that she cannot even fathom how I could be disappointing to her, but that one way we might help assuage my fears is to give voice to these moments. So if she feels that our pacing needs to change – either out of some kind of urgency or a need to slow down and allow me room to breathe – she will simply tell me that. And if I feel as though I’m somehow not meeting her expectations, I will try to voice those fears and fact-check them with her.
She reminded me that it’s not my job to meet the needs of my therapist. She said, “Really, in an ideal world – where you are (as the client) is exactly where we need to be.” Then she explained that her job is to be aware of what I’m bringing into session so that she can understand what is important to me. Because what is important to me is what is important to the work.
She talks about therapy in a way that is both very sound and professional, but also not very representative of how I’ve traditionally experienced it. So after she finished explaining all of this to me, in a very “this is just the way therapy is” sort of way, I said, “Have you ever actually met another therapist?”
She laughed. And I think she understood that this – all of this – is very new and foreign to me. I am not used to having a therapist that is so skillful and good at their job. I’m not used to my therapy being about me. I’m not used to my therapist actually communicating with me or setting clear parameters and expectations.
I need more time to adjust to this.