The Fear of Therapy

By Jessica Darling Wilkerson, LMFT

I have a tendency to dig right in.

I have to force myself to remember to engage in the expected pleasantries of hello, how are you, how has your day been so far?  This is because by the time my client has shown up to my office I’ve already been thinking about them – how about I just say “you”.

I’ve been thinking about you.

I get up in the morning, take my shower, drink my coffee, drop my children off to their respective places, and drive into work.  I listen to the radio while I drive in, but that’s mostly background noise.  I think about the people I get to see today.  Their stories come back to me and I start wondering how they’ve been this week based on how they left my office the previous week.

By the time you arrive, I’ve already started our conversation hours ago, and I’m ready to jump right in.  But quite often, I’ll catch myself, and I’ll try to remember to say the hello first…

I think existing clients become accustomed to my genuine interest in hearing about their experiences and my deeper digging, “so then how did that make you feel about yourself afterwards?”  But newer clients always have longer pauses and their expressions a little more awkward, as if to say, “hold the reigns there cowgirl, we’ve just met!”

Here’s the thing I think new clients need to know – therapists love this stuff!

Licensed therapists have either a master’s or doctorate degree in psychology or social work.  They’ve invested 6-10 years of schooling and then 2-10 years of internship before taking rigorous exams to obtain their license.  They incurred enormous debt as a financial investment.  All-the-while knowing that this is not a highly lucrative field (despite what our rates are).  This is because they see the best in the world and they want to help fix people’s hearts and their relationships.  They went though all that time because they want to spend their lives increasing the joy in this world and mitigating the sorrow.  They are the types of people who look at someone’s pain and want to stand next to them, helping them to get through it.

So think of it this way, if you over-disclose in “real life” it might be a problem and there might be judgement.  You should and do need to go slowly with friendships, disclosing as you build trust.  New relationships are a time where you’re both showing the other person how trustworthy, judgmental, forgiving, open-minded, etc. you each are.  You’re finding the balance of disclosure – how much is too much vs how much is just right.

In therapy, we are unique individuals who already had a knack for digging deep, wanting to understand, and with big ol’ hearts for helping others.

I had a person once tell me, “You’re going to see inside my soul!”

Wow!  That’s deep!  That’s heavy.  For them, that was a scary concept.

And I think the scary thing for that person isn’t that I’ll see in their soul, but that I’ll peer in there and see their brokenness, see what’s wrong with them, decide they’re irredeemable, and reject or judge them.  That would certainly be a heavy secret to keep.

But let me reassure you, when I’m digging deep I’m looking for the places that shine – for what’s beautiful.  I’m looking for the broken pieces and seeing if I can find every last shard so I can help you put it back together.  It might not look like it did before it broke (your heart or you), but it will be a new masterpiece.

People have these wounds they carry around for fear others will see their pain and exacerbate it with negativity, so they hold onto it tight.  Then I come around with my cheerful demeanor and ask to take a look.  I don’t believe I’ll see the things you fear down there.  I won’t see monsters.  I’ll see what happened during your foundational experiences that hurt you, and the behaviors you’ve been engaging in as a way to protect you from those original events.  I’m looking for ways to help you save yourself.

So the next time you’re in therapy and whomever your therapist might be asks you a question that you think will turn them off from you forever, dig deep and answer it anyway.  It might give them the exact road map they need to help you find your new masterpiece and put together the pain so it’s not something you need to carry with you any longer.

Jessica Darling Wilkerson, LMFT104464 is a licensed marriage and family therapist in California.  She has her undergraduate degree in business and a graduate degree in counseling psychology.  After many years working for non-profit agencies and other people’s private practice, her business brain created Inspired Life Counseling.  Here she mentors pre-licensed therapists, provides EMDR to clients, works with individuals and teens, and gets to choose the people she works with everyday.  Jessica is truly living her best life, professionally!

In 2014, Jessica was trained in EMDR in a training approved by the institute that created EMDR (EMDRIA).  She has worked with hundreds of clients using EMDR to heal complex trauma (a million little things that add up and feel like a big hurt) and big, deep trauma (the kind that give you nightmares).  Passionately, she wants to help as many people as possible with this modality and she has all her staff trained in it.  You can have weekly therapy with EMDR as part of your treatment plan and you can also have EMDR Intensives where it’s a fully day of EMDR (five hours or so) and you really dig into the deep stuff so you have an opportunity to experience relief sooner.

If you’ve resonated with Jessica Darling Wilkerson’s style of therapy in this post and if you’re located in California, then you can schedule your own sessions with her or with the therapists who are being mentored by her.  Jessica provides in-person sessions in Chico, CA & Redding, CA while also providing online video sessions via a HIPAA compliant platform called Simple Practice.  She provides EMDR online through a specialty site called RemotEMDR which is also confidential and HIPAA.  She’s noticed that many people are capable of going deeper in EMDR when they’re in the comfort and safety of their own homes.

​ Please click the button below to go to her bio page to learn more about Jessica and to request an appointment.