“There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy”
I won’t beat around the bush, beginning therapy can feel uncomfortable, and it is completely normal to feel a little apprehensive. Like this hedgehog, you may feel a little ‘prickly’ because you are entering into something that feels like unchartered water. Coming into therapy for the first time is a big deal, you might have been thinking of starting for a long time, but now that time has come you are suddenly unsure about what to expect. Or you might have a particular goal, maybe to explore a new way of thinking or feeling, or develop a better understanding of yourself. Whatever the reason, your therapist won’t expect anything of you that you are not ready to share- especially in the first few sessions when you will be establishing trust and setting the scene for your therapeutic journey. Just like the beginning of any new relationship, it is perfectly normal and natural to feel a little ‘on guard’ with your therapist- why wouldn’t you be? Don’t be worried if you become instinctively self-protective, your therapist is trained to read these signals and will have strategies to help you feel safe.
If you have ever experienced ‘butterflies’ or a ‘knot’ in your stomach when you feel apprehensive or excited about something then you might also understand that the reason this happens is because our bodies hold memories about important events which, when activated, provide a physical response. This is a primal response natural to all mammals which alerts us to danger, or gives us information about how to behave. If you are apprehensive about coming to therapy then it might be really understandable to feel shy in your first few sessions, or struggle to get your words out (even if you know exactly what you want to say). Please don’t worry about any of these apprehensions, it is entirely natural to ease into the dialogue slowly and carefully- your body knows this, which is why it is protecting you by slowing you down a little bit.
Sometimes, the things we don’t say about ourselves can offer as much information as the things we do. If you do find yourself feeling a bit stuck in a loop of silence, it might be helpful to try and notice what is happening in your body. A quick body scan can provide really useful information about your emotional state, and is also a really useful way to manage anxiety. Verywell Mind (and many other trustworthy websites) provide further information about how you can practise body-scanning at home, but I will also routinely ask my clients to focus on physical sensation when they are struggling with a difficult thought or feeling. Try pin-pointing sensations such as tense muscles, breathlessness, or clenched fists as a way to gain clarity, understanding or self-compassion about your emotional feeling. Because physical and neurological memories criss-cross backwards and forewords, sometimes they forget to communicate with each other which can create a sense of unease. Clients will often say to me “this feeling doesn’t feel logical” or “I don’t understand myself”. This is often because the brain is responding to a historic trigger which has become lost in conscious memory. But when the physical feelings and the remembered experiences are reunited, and start communicating with each other, then usually everything becomes clearer and starts to make more sense. Regularly practising this strategy alongside therapy can eventually reduce feelings of anxiety, depression and other symptoms associated with PTSD.
If any of this strikes a chord with you then do get in touch. We can have a chat about what you would like to achieve from therapy, and how we can work together to make this happen. Alternatively if you look at my listing on the BACP website, you will find out what to expect in an introductory session.
I look forward forward to hearing from you.
Copyright Luisa Giordano Counselling