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What I Wish I Knew About Therapy: A Naturopathic Doctor's Perspective

Therapy and counselling are among our top recommendations as Naturopathic Doctors - mental health is so important to consider when it comes to looking at overall health. 

We recommend it, but realize that at times we don't pay therapy and/or counselling the attention it deserves in our own lives! As we reflect on this, we can't help but see that our patients are likely experiencing the same hesitancies when it comes to jumping into the process, keeping up with regular appointments, and limiting beliefs surrounding it. 

Here are some rationalizations that we see in practice and within ourselves: 

“I don’t know what I will talk about”

“I don’t know how to start”

“I don’t feel they really helped me get to any realizations”

“I feel like the advice they provided I already knew”

“CBT doesn’t work for me”

Dr. Leduc's reflection on her experience with therapy is incredibly supportive and helpful, read on to learn about what she wishes she knew about therapy!

When it comes to starting therapy, I wish I knew..

that I should go in with less expectations. It isn’t your therapists job to dig deeper. They won’t have all the answers, solutions, or even the insights you are looking for. 

You need to be ready to take a look at all of you, and this won’t be easy. Therapy can stir up some very hard truths, hidden traumas, and grief. You may grow tired of your sessions, or feel anxious about having to show up. This is normal. There are moments where it will be good to push and moments it is good to step back.

It can be hard to trust someone to hold space for your experience. You may not feel comfortable getting to the deeper work in the beginning. Two important questions to ask yourself when resistance comes up is:

  • What am I afraid will happen if I share this?
  • Why don't I want to share this?

The Ebb and Flow

Sometimes your session falls on a day where you feel GREAT - it can be hard to feel like the session will be productive if you do not have anything imminent to discuss. 

Keep a big feelings/moments log. Write down your thoughts and experience in the moment it is happening (i.e after a bad day at work, a bad interaction with a friend, peer, colleague, after an argument with your partner, family, and so on). Write it all out, so that you can document and reference those deep feelings that come up in times of emotional distress.

Understanding what YOU want out of therapy. Independent of feeling better. Naively, I went in thinking if I spoke about what was causing me to feel anxious, lonely, and lacking confidence, that those things would change. I didn’t really ask myself what I wanted to change. Getting clear on what you want to change helps with finding solutions. Do you want to change how you respond in situations? Do you want to build more self-esteem? Do you want to feel more comfortable in your skin so you can comfortably spend more time alone? 

A few questions I wish I had asked myself sooner.

  • How do I respond when I am given feedback?
  • How do I respond when someone confronts me about something I have done to upset them?
  • How do I respond when someone does something that makes me feel uncomfortable?
  • How do I ask for help?
  • How do I respond in confrontation - immediate or delayed? Why?
  • How do I handle failure?
  • How do I handle change?
  • What makes me feel confident?
  • What makes me feel insecure?
  • Do I recognize when I am feeling insecure?
  • Why do you feel more comfortable making sure others around you are happy?
  • Why do you feel it is up to you to make/keep them happy?
  • Do you feel uncomfortable putting yourself first? Why?

This is not meant to serve as a substitute for therapy or counselling, or how to approach this process. It is an incredibly individualized experience - I'm are hopeful that sharing a bit of what I have learned from this experience will help guide your decision and open up conversation about normalizing taking care of our mental health.

Resources That Promote Self-Exploration

A few resources that helped us learn more about myself, so we felt more comfortable asking for solutions to certain behaviours:

We hope this helps you, in whatever way you need! 

Stay well!

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