Therapy, at least of the sort offered by my practitioner, Phillip, is a chance to explore and understand what you think and feel. It gives you the space to compose and articulate thoughts, to be listened to and understood. As such, it seems like a luxurious indulgence. It felt almost depraved, at first, to dwell on myself so much, to indulge an urge that surely ought to be supressed. Surely my ego was grotesquely distended already? Didn’t anorexia prove that?
Therapy might be corrupting if it only brought up the things you wanted to express or knew how to express, or, at least, knew. Everybody wants to be treated as if their words were important, but it’s not good for the soul to have your own interpretations taken too seriously.
But therapy is supposed to seek out and challenge the hidden thoughts and assumptions. Therapists ask searching questions, or expect you to ask searching questions of yourself, and what if you don’t want to confront things you might find in your head?
Personally, I’ve been wandering around, imprisoned in the labyrinth of my own mind for decades and I bore the hell out of myself. It also turns out I don’t understand a damn thing that’s going on in there, but I suspect I won’t like anything I stumble across.
On top of this, there is the need to come up with the goods. We all feel like charlatans, remember, so we always fear that the therapist will look us up and down and say, disdainfully, “Well, you’re fine, you self-indulgent, time-wasting bastard!” About to start a therapy session, I always look into myself and think, “Oh, my God! I’ve got absolutely nothing to say! What will become of me?!”
So self-scrutiny can be hard. It’s tedious, or disturbing. It’s upsetting and unpleasant. It’s a chore, and what with the admissions and the exposure, the mortification, it’s a dirty and soiling chore. Like unblocking drains.
But this means you can treat it like work, and you soon lose the guilt. In fact, you experience that resigned-yet-apprehensive Monday morning feeling in advance of each session.
And therapists are professional listeners. That’s their job. It’s what they were trained and are paid to do, and they can take professional pride in their ability to do it well. Remembering this makes it easier to justify spilling your guts to them. You can treat yourself like a topic under discussion.
Of course, I still feel guilty, but now it’s because I’ve been given an opportunity denied to most. Everyone should have therapy. It does actually seem therapeutic: healing and constructive.