Deciding to have grief therapy is an important, positive step towards dealing with bereavement. Although it’s not for everyone, therapy or counselling can help you understand your emotions and develop ways of coping with your grief in everyday life.
If you’ve never had any kind of therapy before, you might be nervous and not know what to expect. Here are a few common thoughts it’s okay to have during your first session:
I can’t do this
Being nervous is completely normal. You might even get cold feet and cancel – and that’s okay. It might take a few attempts to actually get there, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
Your therapist or counsellor knows that the first session can be daunting. They will try their best to make it a welcoming, friendly experience. And it’s okay if you tell them that you’re nervous. You’re not being interviewed or assessed. Be as honest as you like.
This feels weird
As you begin to talk about your loss and your feelings, you might become aware that it is weird to be talking to a stranger about these things. You might even be surprised by how easy it is to open up.
Therapy can feel strange at first. It’s completely different from any type of conversation we might normally have in everyday life. It will feel less weird the more sessions you have, as you become more comfortable with your counsellor, the room you’re in, and the types of questions they will ask.
I don’t like my therapist
You might find that you don’t like your therapist or counsellor. This is a natural reaction to the feeling that they are ‘prying’ or bringing up painful past experiences. They might ask questions that you don’t like, and this might make you feel angry or uncomfortable.
Remember that it is always okay to tell a therapist or counsellor if they say something you don’t like. They don’t want to make you uncomfortable.
However, if you really feel that you have no connection with them, you can try another counsellor or therapist. Finding someone you can really open up to can take time, but it will be worth it.
I don’t know what to say
Long silences happen during therapy. This is a technique used by a lot of therapists and counsellors in order to encourage you to talk. They might also pause to let you think over what has just been said.
At first these silences might feel awkward, but remember that there is no pressure for you to start speaking until you are ready.
Why are they asking about that?
Sometimes therapists will ask questions that don’t seem connected to the problem you came there to discuss.
However, therapists are there to help you understand yourself better, and this can mean looking at all aspects of your life. To understand how you cope with your emotions now, you may need to explore past incidents that made you who you are.
Always remember that your therapist or counsellor is there to help you. If you feel awkward, angry, or uncomfortable, it’s okay to say so. By being honest with them, you’ll be able to get more out of each session.
You can find a therapist or counsellor through bereavement support and counselling organisations operating across Australia. Alternatively, talk to your family doctor about finding support during bereavement.