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5 Therapy Tips for People Who Are Uncomfortable With the Idea of Talking to a Stranger

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Most people who know me know I’m a very private person. It takes quite a lot for me to open up to people, to share and be vulnerable. I just don’t like sharing about myself or talking about myself. I never have and I’m still so uncomfortable doing it. I just like to keep to myself and have things hidden in my heart. So when I was told I needed to see my school counselor and then was referred to a psychologist, it scared the crap of me.

From what I’ve seen on TV, those sessions involve the patient doing most, if not all, of the talking — and that was my worst nightmare. Things were bad enough that I needed to talk about myself, and what’s worse was it would have to be with a total stranger. I was so hesitant in seeking help, but I also knew if I didn’t, things would not get better. So with the help of someone in my life, I made the first step and made an appointment.

Before my first-ever meeting, I was so anxious about seeing the college psychologist that I had a panic attack. I still remember my first few meetings. I did not say a single word or all I could say was, “I don’t know.” It was mostly my psychologist doing the talking. I felt so bad that I was wasting his time because I could not and would not say anything, but I am so thankful for his patience and sticking by me.

So two years on, and many sessions later, I’m now able to talk and share in my sessions, and now it’s more of a conversation instead of just me listening. I still do however get anxious from time to time about going to see my psychologist. But it is getting better, and I have learned a few tips on getting comfortable with talking to your therapist that I would like to share in hopes that it’ll help you and let you know you’re not alone in how you’re feeling.

1. Write it all down.

If you’re like me, and words just don’t come out of your mouth easily, write down what you want to share. And when you get to the session, get your therapist to read it if you’re too uncomfortable to share it yourself. In time, hopefully you won’t need this safety net, but will be able to share freely. But for me this was a good starting point.

2. Jot it down in bullet points.

Once I moved on from writing all my thoughts and getting my psychologist to read it, he wanted me to start saying things out loud. When I had to move to this stage, it scared me and my mind would go blank. So I learned to write down summarizing bullet points. This allowed me to open up when I forgot and jog my memory.

3. Find someone you’re comfortable with.

This will help make sharing and talking about yourself easier. Watch how they react when they hear about what you’re going through. Look at their facial expression and body language, watch the words they use. Sense how you feel with them. Do they believe in you? Do you feel like you’re in a safe zone? If not, don’t be afraid to change the person you’re seeing. It went through a few psychologists to find the one I’m seeing. Now I can be 100 percent open and feel safe and comfortable in doing so.

4. Try to make yourself comfortable.

I would wear clothes that made me feel good whenever I saw my psychologist. As talking was something so uncomfortable for me, I needed to make sure my clothes didn’t add to it, nor did my environment. Whenever I went to their office, I would move and shuffle the pillows and things on the couch so I could be comfortable. I found that when I’m physically at ease it made it easier for my mind to be OK with talking about what was going on.

5. Just give it a go.

Start with one sentence, then two and build up from it. Slowly but surely, you’ll get to a point that you can share freely without it being such a struggle.

Bonus tip for after therapy: Because I don’t like talking, and having to talk about myself for one hour is way too much for my liking, I would usually do something chill after that does not require me to talk about myself. This allowed me to “recover,” so I wouldn’t feel overwhelmed with it all.

I hope this helps you in making the first step to be free. You deserve it and you’re definitely not meant to do this alone.

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Thinkstock photo via stockbyte.

Originally published: August 31, 2017
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