trust yourself

How Can You Learn to Trust a Therapist?

Published on January 6, 2020 by First Responder Wellness

Many people who have never considered therapy or received mental health treatment are reluctant to trust a therapist with their problems. For those with addictions, therapy is often a necessary tool for working through underlying issues that lead to substance abuse.

Therapists use several techniques to address mental health issues and unresolved trauma. If left unchecked, these issues can inhibit the client’s ability to overcome addiction.

If you are not comfortable with the idea of therapy, it is vital to educate yourself about the process. Keep an open mind so that you can get the most out of treatment.

Cultivate Trust in Yourself

When beginning therapy, it may feel as if you are unable to trust your therapist, when, in reality, you are unable to trust yourself. If you aren’t confident in your ability to make reasonable choices or protect yourself, you will struggle with vulnerability.

You might have developed mistrust in yourself due to past trauma, substance abuse, or a pattern of self-destructive behaviors. It is normal for people with these histories to have trouble trusting their selves and others.

As long as you are open with your therapist about these feelings, you can begin to develop a deeper trust in your own instincts and intuition over time. Remember that by choosing to seek treatment for addiction and mental health disorders, you are already making the healthiest and most responsible choice available to you. This is an excellent indication that you can begin to trust your own judgment.

Talk to Your Therapist About Your Distrust

Even if all you can talk about during your first few therapy sessions is your inability to trust others, you are still on the right track. Your therapist will be accustomed to handling clients with a history of trauma.

It won’t strike them as unusual that you are hesitant to open up about your emotions and past. You can make the therapist’s job much easier, however, by letting them know when you are feeling uncomfortable or fearful.

Your therapist can help you navigate areas where you find it especially challenging to express vulnerability. Over time, you may find it easier to build trust within the therapist-client relationship. 

Remember that You Have Control

When you are in therapy, it may feel as if the therapist has control of the situation. That feeling can cause fear and anxiety. It is the therapist’s job to direct the focus of the conversation and help you to see things from a different perspective.

Remember, however, that it is your decision to share and whether you’re going to continue. Just knowing you can stop talking or leave the situation at any time can help you relax when you are new to therapy. Additionally, if you have any specific triggers, such as physical closeness or loud noises, let your therapist know as soon as possible.

Most therapists create a safe and cautious environment in anticipation of clients with these types of trauma. At the same time, remember that your therapist can’t read your mind. Even if you can’t open up about your trauma, let them know how they can make the environment as comfortable and non-threatening for you as possible.

Learn to Recognize Safety

For many people with a history of trauma, such as first responders, chaos and danger can begin to feel normal. When this happens, it can be challenging to recognize a safe environment. This means that the mind’s fight-or-flight response is constantly triggered.

This leads to uncomfortable physical reactions in the body and unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse. This is especially true for individuals that grew up in dysfunctional home environments where they endured or witnessed abuse or neglect.

Consider your personal history to determine how you may have formed your ability to recognize safety and compassion. Ask yourself if you are negatively biased against therapy due to past trauma.  If you feel that a fundamental safety recognition mechanism is lacking, share this with your therapist. They will then have a foundation to build on when developing trust.

The First Responders Treatment Program at Simple Recovery uses trauma-informed strategies to cater to the unique needs of law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, and other first responders with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental illnesses. We recognize that first responders encounter job-specific barriers and obstacles that come with the culture of their careers. Existing stigmas may make seeking help for addiction and mental health issues especially tricky.

Addiction does not have to mean the end of your career. Nor do you have to resign yourself to a lifetime of struggling with your health and relationships. At Simple Recovery, we take a holistic approach to treatment and addressing the underlying causes of addiction. This approach makes it possible for first responders to regain control of every aspect of their wellbeing.

First responders dedicate their lives to protecting their community. At Simple Recovery’s First Responder Treatment Program, we dedicate our time to helping these compassionate individuals find a path to lasting sobriety and mental wellness.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, call us now at 888-743-0490