Many people have reservations about beginning psychotherapy because they are not sure what to expect. I wrote this with the hope of painting a picture of therapy from beginning to end. I know there are many ways to treat your mental health and psychotherapy is simply one of them. My best work happens when I am helping you pay attention.
So picture this: You are in a dark, disgusting room, and you've been in there awhile and finally one day you can't take it anymore, so you open the door and step out of the room. When you open the door, you see me standing there, and at the end of a long hallway you see everything you want in life. You see your favorite food, an iPod with your favorite song playing, you even see that one person that you hold in the highest regard, that you idealize - maybe it's one of your favorite teachers, or one of your friends, a celebrity, it's that one person you always wanted to be like. Everything you want and wish you could be. It's all there. I say to you "well I'm glad you finally decided to step out of that room." And although the end of the hallway appears a bit blurry, you can see enough of it to know all of those things are there. And you ask “can you help me get down this hallway to all of those things so I can enjoy them?" And I say "Sure. How about we start walking. Oh and one thing that I know, that you might not be aware of, is that the only way I can help you get down that hallway is to help you help yourself get there. I mean, After all, it was you who got yourself out of that dark room." So we start walking down the hallway and you suddenly become aware of your sensitivity to light, which makes sense after spending so much time in the dark, so you sort of panic and you put on a blindfold to make yourself comfortable on your journey. I see you do this, so I say, "you know, I heard you say you wanted to get to the end of the hallway, and I also just saw you put on a blindfold.” And you're a bit uncomfortable with this contradiction being noticed, so you take the blindfold off. And as soon as you do this, the light is still tough to tolerate, but it's a bit easier now because you've had your exposure just a moment ago. As you're continuing down the hallway you're suddenly stopped, but you don't know what stops you. You look down and see you've got shackles around your ankles, so I put a small mirror in front of your feet and you say “Wow. I didn't know those were there.” So you take them off and you continue walking. The hallway begins to get noisier. You start hearing familiar voices yelling at you. They get louder and louder and you really get uncomfortable, so you pull out a pair of earmuffs from your pocket, you put them on and meanwhile I know that part of your goal is to listen to the music at the end of the hallway, so I put another mirror in front of your face and this time what you see is a picture of your parents. You start to examine the picture and when you put the picture in your hands, you actually notice this picture is just a sticker inside of a frame. So you pull the sticker off and you see the mirror and you see the earmuffs on your head. You say to me "yeah. I know they're there. It's too loud in here." And I go to respond, so you lift one earmuff off and hear me say “You know you told me you wanted to listen to that music at the end of the hallway and I don't see how you can do that with earmuffs on." This makes sense to you and you're feeling closer to the end, so you take off the earmuffs and set them down and now the room oddly seems a bit quieter. You're not exactly sure how, but you surmise it has something to do with it being your choice to take the earmuffs off instead of being forced to like you remember your parents made you. So you continue down the hallway and you're close to the end and each one of those things begin to take shape. You start to see them all forming together in a weird way and as you get even closer you notice a large mirror. You approach the end of the hallway and all you see is a reflection of yourself standing right where you saw all of those things you wanted. A bit confused, you turn to me and as you’re turning you catch a glimpse of a backpack on your back. You suddenly feel the weight of it and take it off your back. You open it up and inside are all of your favorite things you initially thought were at a distance. As you go to show me you've had all of these things with you the entire time, you see me holding up another huge mirror. And you see yourself again. And this time you realize something. That person who you saw at the end of the hallway. The one you admired and adored and wished you could be like. That was you.