It’s normal to be anxious about going to counseling, and if you have a lot to talk about, you might be nervous going into a session because there’s so much emotional work to do. It can be hard to open up about your problems, and one of the ways that you can keep up with your feelings is by writing down what you want to talk about during therapy; make a list. I know it sounds kind of cheesy, but making a list of the topics that you want to talk about can help. During a counseling session, you have a limited amount of time to speak to your therapist, so if you prioritize and make a list, you can make sure to touch on the most critical or prevalent issues that are affecting you first. It’s like the staph infection of emotional problems.
What it feels like to be overwhelmed in counseling
When you’re overwhelmed in a counseling session, it might feel like you have so much that you want to talk about that you won’t be able to get it all out, but when you come in with a list, you’ll be prepared to specify what you want to talk about in treatment. Maybe, you don’t know what to talk about first, and in that case, your therapist can guide you. They’re there to help you figure out what’s bothering you the most. They might have you touch on each topic for a few minutes and talk about your anxiety surrounding them. Just expressing that you’re anxious can help.
You don’t have to solve everything in one session
You don’t have to solve everything in one counseling session. You’re there to start unpacking that emotional box, and it’s okay if there are a lot of things in it. It’s going to take time to sift through all of the things that you want to talk about in therapy. For example, if you have past trauma, it’s going to take some time to tell the story of your trauma and then talk about the after effects and how it impacted you. It’s important to realize that you don’t need to get it all out at once and that you don’t need to rush through things in therapy.
Talking about things that have impacted you is hard
Some things are harder to talk about than others, and your therapist understands that. It’s difficult when there’s a topic that you want to avoid. If you’re ready, your therapist will encourage you to face it head on because if you neglect a problem, you’ll never get to the solution. As much as you want to avoid pain, it’s not productive. That said, you don’t have to deal with it all at once. Break it down and talk about smaller components of the issue at a slower pace if you feel like things are going too fast, or if something is too uncomfortable for you to talk about, know that you don’t have to talk about it and that you can take a break from focusing on that particular issue.
Sometimes, the pain is too much
Sometimes, in counseling, you have something to talk about, but it feels like too much. Maybe, you have a relative that passed away, or you have a severe conflict with a loved one such as a family member. It could be that you need a break from the pain and you’re not in a place to talk about it quite yet. Maybe, you’re struggling with substance use or an eating disorder, and you’re not sure if you want to continue talking about that topic. Counseling is what you make of it, and it’s okay to take a break from something too painful for you. Communicate with your therapist and tell them that this is painful and you don’t know how to handle it. One of the things that you can work on in therapy is distress tolerance, so it could be helpful to focus on that and other coping skills before diving into the serious stuff.
Online counseling is an excellent place to face the anxiety surrounding the issues that you need to deal with and address them one at a time. With online counseling, you can message your therapist, and show them the list that you wrote of things to discuss during sessions so that they can take note of that these are priorities to focus on during therapy. Your therapist or counselor will have a record of your emotional priorities, and they can help you work through each of those topics. Whether you work with a therapist online or in your local area, they will help you build or solidify stable mental health, and that matters.
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