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Fear of Therapy: How to Find Courage

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Approaching therapy can be intimidating, but it’s an important step towards caring for yourself. Fear of therapy often comes from not wanting to share personal things, worrying about what others will think, and not being sure if therapy will help.

A study by the American Psychological Association found that approximately 75% of individuals who participate in therapy report benefitting from it. This guide is here to make therapy less scary and give easy tips to help you prepare and remove your worries, one step at a time.

It’s important to understand that being nervous about therapy is normal and something many people feel. Talking about mental health more openly has helped lower the shame around it and encouraged more people to look for support.

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness, highlighting the need for accessible mental health care. By understanding the reasons behind therapy-related anxiety and learning how to manage them, you can take the first steps towards a more fulfilling and mentally healthy life.

Key Takeaways

  • Common reasons people might avoid therapy include fear of sharing secrets, worry about others’ opinions, and doubts about therapy’s effectiveness, although many experience great mental health improvements.
  • Building a good relationship with a counselor is key, and choosing the right one, setting limits, and talking about your worries can improve your therapy experience.
  • Online therapy provides an easy and private way to get help without having to go to in-person meetings, making mental health support more reachable for those with full schedules, physical limitations, or who prefer the privacy of an online service.

Understanding Common Fears About Therapy

Every individual has different reasons for seeking therapy. Common fears often prevent people from starting their healing journey. These fears usually fall into three categories – worry about being open with personal issues, concern over being judged by the therapist or others, and doubts that therapy will help. These common fears are completely normal.

Understanding that it’s okay to be afraid is the first step to getting past that fear of therapy. Therapists are there to help you without passing judgment. They listen and support you as you share your thoughts, moving at the right pace. Everything you talk about in therapy stays between you and your therapist, so you can feel safe to open up.

Therapists today use many different ways to help people, including art therapy, mindfulness techniques, and CBT (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy). With all these choices, you can customize your therapy to what feels comfortable and works for you.

We will now look at these fears in more detail, including the fear of interacting with a stranger.

Fear of vulnerability and sharing personal thoughts

Opening up about our thoughts and feelings to a therapist can feel scary. It takes courage to confront our feelings and share our worries and life stories. Opening up in therapy is necessary. It helps to work through feelings and past events, but it’s hard to drop the idea that showing your true self is a no-go.

Being hesitant to open up often comes from:

  • the fear of showing emotional
  • feeling uncomfortable about opening up
  • shame or embarrassment about needing help or about past behaviors
  • anxiety about not knowing what to expect from therapy, who the therapist is, and how to identify goals

These factors can contribute to a fear of vulnerability.

Fear of judgment from the therapist or others

Many people who think about going to therapy are worried about being judged by the therapist or others. This fear of therapy is stronger for people with thoughts or experiences they think are unusual or not commonly accepted. For therapy to be effective, clients must feel safe and be honest and open. Worrying about what the therapist or others might think when discussing personal or family issues makes people hesitant about therapy.

The good news? Most therapists work hard to ensure their office is a welcoming place where they understand that everyone has unique life stories and challenges, even if they’re unusual or not considered common.

Fear that therapy won’t be effective or helpful

It’s common for folks to wonder if therapy will work for them. This worry often comes from misunderstandings, thinking therapists have special abilities, knowing your thoughts, or fixing issues without sharing your story. Concerns about being diagnosed with mental health issues or a condition they believe is incurable might affect their will to find therapy helpful.

Studies have shown that therapy helps people; cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a good example. CBT can change how the brain works, which means therapy can make a big difference in how someone feels. A study in the journal “Psychiatry Research” found that people who did Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, or CBT for short, for a few weeks started to have changed brain activity in the parts that handle emotions (Gallagher et al., 2013).

Building Trust in the Therapeutic Relationship

A strong foundation of trust with your therapist is necessary to benefit from therapy fully. Without this trust, progress can be slowed down; it is needed for honest conversation and true progress.

It’s important to feel that your therapist understands you and respects your journey, providing a safe therapeutic environment. Trust allows you to challenge yourself during the therapeutic process, grow personally, and reach your goals.

Here are some practical suggestions to help you form a trusting relationship with your therapist during your sessions.

Is therapy right for you?

Finding the right therapist is an important step in your therapy journey. Therapists undergo specific training, each with different qualifications and specialties. Understanding that therapists who focus on certain problems or use methods you like may make your therapy more effective. As you start therapy, scheduling an appointment with the right professional is important.

Therapists can be found through personal referrals and online databases like Clarity Ease. These databases offer searchable lists of licensed therapists with different specialties. Part of your therapy experience is connecting with your therapist and feeling at ease when sharing your deepest thoughts.

Making Therapy Comfortable for You

When you start therapy, remember:

  • You have the freedom to share at your own pace. Feel comfortable to share as much as you’re ready when you’re ready.
  • Your comfort is important. If a topic feels too much, pausing and exploring it later is okay.
  • Your goals matter. Tell your therapist what you hope to achieve so they can support you better.

You have the power to guide the pace of your therapy sessions, which can make it easier for you to share your feelings and might help you open up more quickly.

Open communication with your therapist about your fears

Communicating openly about your fears and concerns with your therapist is an important step for progress in therapy. Psychotherapy encourages self-awareness and self-compassion, helping you be self-forgiving and practice being more mindful and kind to your thoughts and feelings.

One common concern is the fear that if therapy isn’t successful, the client might be blamed. It’s important to understand that this is a team process, and openly discussing worries with the therapist can help strengthen the relationship and make therapy more successful.

Speaking openly and honestly with your therapist can help build trust, which can positively affect other areas of your life.

Overcoming Social Anxiety in Therapy

Social anxiety can make it difficult to start therapy. The thought of picking up the phone to schedule an appointment or sitting in a waiting room can feel overwhelming. For some, making eye contact or shaking hands with a therapist for the first time can trigger discomfort.

Specific strategies are designed to help overcome social anxiety and make the most of therapy sessions. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, social anxiety affects 15 million adults in the United States.

Many people can join therapy and see their lives improve by using the right methods. These strategies may include slow exposure to social situations, role-playing exercises, or starting with online sessions to build up comfort over time. Here are some simple tips to help you deal with being nervous about going to therapy.

Preparing for your first session

Getting ready for your first therapy appointment is important for a positive start. Thinking about what you want to improve with therapy can help you set clear goals. Sharing the reasons for choosing therapy can give your therapist important insights, allowing them to personalize their approach to your specific needs and concerns.

Writing down what you want to discuss before the therapy session can help organize your thoughts and feelings. Coming to your first therapy session ready to discuss your life story and current challenges creates a good starting point for working with your therapist.

It’s okay to speak freely and at your comfort level; this will help your therapist understand you better and customize the therapy to your needs.

Practicing self-compassion and patience

Practicing self-compassion and patience throughout the therapy process is important. Self-compassion means being kind and understanding to yourself. It can include strategies such as:

  • changing negative self-talk into kind words for yourself
  • using gentle self-touch like hugs or holding your hand to help calm yourself down
  • doing things that are good for your body and mind

Patience is important in the therapeutic process; it takes time to notice positive changes. It’s about understanding each step, no matter how small, and recognizing that healing doesn’t happen overnight.

Using coping strategies during therapy sessions

Using coping strategies during therapy sessions can help manage anxiety and stress. Techniques such as taking deep breaths, relaxing your muscles, and questioning unhelpful thoughts can help focus your mind and soothe your nerves. Different techniques like journaling, reading therapy, art therapies, and mindfulness-based stress-reducing activities can increase self-awareness in therapy.

Participating in therapy homework outside the therapist’s office, such as meditation or other relaxation exercises, is also important. Discussing any concerns about these activities with the therapist can help your therapy progress.

The Benefits of Facing Your Fears and Starting Therapy

Facing your fears and starting therapy can be an important decision that leads to many benefits. It’s a step towards understanding and improving your emotional well-being.

Discussing your worries with a therapist is a move towards feeling better and growing as a person. This brave step to seek support can begin positive life changes, leading you toward a more joyful and fulfilled self.

Many people report improvements in their mental and physical health when they begin therapy. Here are some positive results you can expect from engaging in therapy:

Enhanced emotional well-being

Therapy plays a big role in improving emotional expression, which benefits mental health conditions and personal relationships. Many who use therapy experience better mental and emotional well-being and daily functioning, with 75 percent of individuals seeing symptom improvements.

Therapy can change the brain in ways similar to medication. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to help with anxiety and depression.

The positive effects of therapy are long-term. They offer individuals tools for future challenges, leading to a consistent, healthy emotional state.

A better understanding of oneself and one’s emotions

Therapy helps people better understand their thoughts, feelings, and actions. It reveals negative beliefs that prevent progress and helps individuals adjust their lives to match their true selves.

By discovering these thoughts, therapy can help guide you to be more genuine, helping you live in a way that’s true to what you want and believe.

Self-awareness is important for adjusting to life changes, allowing individuals to understand:

  • their needs
  • their desires
  • their flaws
  • their habits

Self-awareness encourages growth. Setting goals often begins with self-awareness; research links it directly to success, confidence, and emotional well-being.

Development of healthy coping mechanisms

Therapy teaches people how to cope with problems and get through tough times. Learning coping skills can help individuals to handle life’s struggles and grow beyond their challenges.

Therapy can help change how your brain reacts, making it easier to deal with tough situations. Some good things you might notice after starting therapy are:

  • Increased self-awareness
  • Improved communication skills
  • Better stress management
  • Enhanced problem-solving abilities
  • Increased self-esteem and confidence

By participating in therapy, individuals can learn the tools they need to cope with life’s difficulties and build a stronger foundation for their mental well-being.

Tips for a Successful First Therapy Session

Starting therapy can be challenging, especially when meeting with a complete stranger for the first time. Feeling nervous about sharing personal issues with someone you don’t know is normal.

It’s important to have clear expectations for your first therapy session. Your first meeting is a step toward positive change; these guidelines support that transition. To help ease into your therapy journey, here are straightforward tips for a successful start to your sessions.

Also, remember that treating the first session in therapy as a ‘get to know you’ meeting is fine. Both you and your therapist will have questions for each other. This initial discussion is important for setting the tone for future sessions and being comfortable with your therapist’s style and approach.

Researching therapists and their approaches

Before starting therapy, it is important to research potential therapists and their methods. Different types of mental health professionals are available, each with different qualifications and specializations. A good therapist is trained to handle different problems and use various methods. Finding one that uses techniques you’re comfortable with can make your therapy more successful.

There are several ways to find potential therapists, such as through recommendations from people you know or by using searchable databases provided by professional organizations.

Preparing questions and concerns for your first session

When attending your first therapy session, it is a good idea to bring a list of questions and concerns. Discussing the fees and billing, session availability, frequency, therapy goals, and possible outcomes can help clarify things and set expectations. You should also be ready to ask questions about the therapist’s treatment style, their specific techniques, and how to tell if therapy is making a difference.

Embracing the process and giving yourself time to adjust

Starting therapy is a path toward learning more about yourself and making positive changes. Give yourself a chance to get used to this new step, and be patient with yourself as you learn. Ask about the different therapeutic methods and strategies in your therapy sessions. This will help you stay involved and comfortable with the approach taken towards your care.

It’s important to remember that change is one step at a time in therapy, and immediate results are not the norm. Patience is necessary as you and your therapist work as a team toward your goals.

Online Therapy: An Alternative Option

Online therapy has become an easy alternative for those nervous about in-person sessions. It offers the same professional guidance without the need to travel, making it accessible to individuals in remote areas or with mobility issues.

The growth of online therapy during the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that getting help for mental health can be flexible, fitting the client’s situation and where they live. This change has made it easier for more people to get the support they need, no matter where they are or what’s happening in their lives.

Online therapy can be a great option for people who are unsure about starting therapy. It provides a less intimidating starting point by allowing individuals to seek help in the comfort and security of their own space. This can be valuable for those who feel overwhelmed by the idea of face-to-face meetings or who prefer the privacy that online platforms can provide.

Convenience and flexibility of online therapy

Online therapy is practical, allowing people to connect with therapists from anywhere. This is useful for those with:

  • limited access to in-person therapy options
  • physical disabilities or mobility issues
  • social anxiety or difficulty leaving the house
  • busy schedules or travel commitments

Online therapy platforms may offer the advantages of flexible scheduling and booking multiple sessions. Monthly rates can also be more affordable.

Confidentiality and privacy in online sessions

One of the benefits of online therapy is the level of confidentiality and privacy it offers. Online therapy can lessen the anxiety of attending therapy sessions by offering a way to seek help privately. Virtual therapy offers privacy; no one needs to know about the sessions, and it gives clients control over who is aware.

Online therapy sessions use safe video call technology, which keeps conversations private and protects personal information.

Finding a reputable online therapist or platform

To have a good experience with therapy online, you should:

  1. Find a reputable online therapist or platform.
  2. Check that the online therapist you’re considering has the right license and training to help you.
  3. Make sure the online service keeps your information safe. They should follow important privacy rules and use special coding to secure your data.

Use online search engines like Clarity Ease’s find a therapist tool, which allows filtering by specialties, approaches, and sliding scale fees and provides a source for referrals to find a reputable online therapist or platform.


Starting the therapy journey can seem overwhelming, but understanding the common fears that come with it can ease your mind. Building trust through open communication with your therapist is important for a beneficial therapeutic relationship. Overcoming social anxiety is just one of the many challenges that therapy can help you through. The rewards of starting therapy—self-improvement and emotional well-being—are worth facing those initial fears and doubts.

Whether you choose in-person or online therapy, the path to better mental health is valuable. In-person sessions offer a traditional, face-to-face experience, while online therapy provides convenience and privacy from your own home. Both roads lead to a common destination: emotional well-being, self-understanding, and the development of useful coping strategies. These benefits prepare you with tools for long-term mental health and quality of life improvements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why am I so nervous to see my therapist?

It’s natural to feel anxious before seeing a therapist due to preconceived notions and expectations about the process. Trust the process and give yourself the chance to benefit from the experience.

How do I get over my fear of therapy?

To overcome your fear of therapy, remember that feeling anxious before your first session is normal. Be proud of yourself for taking this step, and be honest with your therapist about your concerns. Don’t be afraid to ask questions; remember that everything is confidential.

How can I build trust with my therapist?

Building trust with your therapist means understanding, participating in the conversation, and receiving nonjudgmental support. It’s also about being open and honest about what worries you. These steps are important to forming a solid and supportive therapy partnership.

What are the benefits of starting therapy?

Starting therapy can lead to enhanced emotional well-being, a better understanding of emotions, and the development of healthy coping mechanisms. These benefits improve overall mental health and quality of life.

Can I do therapy online?

Online therapy offers convenience, flexibility, confidentiality, and privacy, making it a good choice for mental health support.