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Fear of Psychotherapy and Feeling Exposed

Updated on October 29, 2017
janshares profile image

As a poet, therapist, and observer of human behavior, Janis has a keen awareness of what makes people tick and behave the way they do.

Patients Fear Exposure by Revealing Too Much Information

A first-time patient doesn't want to feel judged by his or her therapist for the secrets revealed in session. Fear and shame make it difficult to open up completely.
A first-time patient doesn't want to feel judged by his or her therapist for the secrets revealed in session. Fear and shame make it difficult to open up completely. | Source

Feeling Exposed in Therapy

"How comfortable did you feel sharing information in your first session?"

See results

Therapeutic Journey Can Provoke Anxiety

Many clients choose the road to therapy with apprehension with several starts and stops before they attend the first appointment.
Many clients choose the road to therapy with apprehension with several starts and stops before they attend the first appointment. | Source
A good therapeutic alliance between therapist and client increases client's ability to freely share.
A good therapeutic alliance between therapist and client increases client's ability to freely share. | Source

A Poem About Feeling Exposed

"Fear of Exposure" (JLE 2007)

An unexpected meeting place, by choice or circumstance

Opening myself to you in therapeutic stance


Who is this I ask myself, a stranger in my face

Expecting me to give details and share with you my case


Crazy disposition laid, to open up and talk

While you just sit still listening and watch me like a hawk


More and more I talk about the things that make me shrink

Feeling very vulnerable, I wonder what you think


As time passes on the clock, with so much more to say

A tug-of-war I play inside, true feelings held at bay


I don't think I can trust this thing, the dance called therapy

Exposed and naked there I sit as you look back at me


Your judgment and analysis slowly brings forth my fears

Afraid to show you all of me as I hold back my tears


I cannot trust you totally, my affect fades to blank

So I retreat inside my head back to my cold think tank


For now I will protect myself with every chosen word

Sharing with you only from the tip of my iceberg

Patients Partially Expose Until They Feel Emotionally Safe

It takes time to open up and reveal true parts of ourselves in a therapy session.
It takes time to open up and reveal true parts of ourselves in a therapy session. | Source

The unspoken theme of 'exposure' resonates throughout the therapy session as more and more vulnerability is revealed.

— Janis Evans, Licensed Professional Counselor and Poet

Understanding the Client's Fears and Point of View

This poem was inspired years ago by a client who was extremely uncomfortable with the process of therapy. It has since applied to just about every new client in terms of my understanding of and sensitivity to how each feels about being in therapy.

The unspoken theme of 'exposure' is one that resonates in a psychotherapy setting. In such a setting, clients are at the height of vulnerability, sharing the most intimate details of their personal lives with a complete stranger.

It's not often we get the chance to see that point of view of the person in the "hot seat." As therapists, we try to make the initial and subsequent sessions as comfortable as possible to ensure a good therapeutic experience. This poem gives us that perspective and increases our empathy for those who come into session for help.

Comfort Level with Your Therapist is Essential

Finding a therapist with whom you feel comfortable is not always easy. It takes time to get the right fit and feel safe opening up to a complete stranger about your most personal issues. Take time to do your research to find the right therapist for you. Visit this article which details how to find a therapist to get you started.

© 2015 Janis Leslie Evans

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    • janshares profile image
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      Janis Leslie Evans 19 months ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you so much, hari, for reading and commenting. It's good to see you understand. I appreciate your insights, glad you liked the poem and found this hub useful. Thanks for stopping by.

    • shprd74 profile image

      Hari Prasad S 19 months ago from Bangalore

      Opening up helps clarity in thoughts, the more one speaks the more the one understands his/her own inhibitions. A therpist should make the patient understand this. Then rest can fall in place for both patient and therpist, which however takes a lot of personal emotional understanding of the patient and is no easy job for both.

      Nice poem and useful hub too janshares.

      - hari

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 19 months ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Jennifer. You are so right about most people coming to therapy to resolve a crisis. I appreciate your visit and insights.

    • Jennifer Mugrage profile image

      Jennifer Mugrage 19 months ago from Columbus, Ohio

      Thanks for pointing this out, Jan. I am in the minority who start out with a bias toward vulnerability and "letting it all hang out." However, time and experience have slowly taught me that this can be a foolish stance and that although we do need to be willing to take relational risks sometimes, still those who are more cautious are wise.

      If experience is any guide, many people do not seek therapy until they are in a crisis. (After all, it's expensive!) At that point, they may be in such a state that they are being misunderstood and judged by their friends and family. And they may reasonably wonder, Why should a stranger not draw these same conclusions?

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you, shprd74. I appreciate your visit and comment.

    • shprd74 profile image

      Hari Prasad S 2 years ago from Bangalore

      Excellent hub janshares. most people step out only when they cannot handle issues any longer or are totally confused and hence the responsibility of the councillor is very high for it is a last chance kind of situation.

      very well written.

    • word55 profile image

      Word 2 years ago from Chicago

      I guess I should have said no more repeats of the problem or problems worked on.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      I have had sucesses with clients, sometimes after a few sessions, sometimes after a year. It depends on the issue and it depends on the client's diagnosis, coping skills, support system, and motivation and willingness to change their situation. As far as having no more problems, that would be unrealistic. Life continues as it always does. Therapy can help you tackle it better.

    • word55 profile image

      Word 2 years ago from Chicago

      Hi Jan, job well done. I'm curious, How often does Psychotherapy resolve issues or someone's problem? Has someone that you know of came out of therapy and lived a happy and normal life with no more problems?

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Aw, Kim, you are so welcomed. Very sweet of you to recognize this hub and the importance of therapy. I fully support getting therapy via graduate student practicums. I received experience the same way. So glad the poem resonated with you. Thank you so much for stopping by and for your powerful comment. Blessing to you, too.

    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 2 years ago from North Carolina

      Because money is tight, I do not meet with a licensed therapist, but grad students who are supervised by a licensed therapist. They need to document one on one time, and I need to meet with someone who is willing to accept a much lower fee. My psychiatrist says I am training good therapists. Smiles. Your poem is perfect. You capture the struggle and challenge one must meet and overcome. It is very scary to put one's self out there, and "it" does not happen without that trust and security. The students I have worked with have been awesome. It has also allowed me to get accustomed to different personalities and approaches. Thank you for your work here on HP, but thank you also for the work you do for so many.

      Blessings,

      Kim

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you, DREAM ON. That means a lot coming from you. I appreciate your visit and comment.

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 2 years ago

      I think there is a balance and connection from therapist to patient that comes through many visits. The walls of resistance come tumbling down. An amazing view I never thought of before. I enjoyed your poem very much.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      I appreciate your valuable comments, J - R. You are correct about the benefits. Thank you for stopping by to read this poem hub and leave a comment. And thanks for the lovely fan mail.

    • J - R - Fr13m9n profile image

      Jane Ramona Rynkiewicz Frieman 2 years ago from Morris County, New Jersey

      Psychotherapy is just as relevant today as it was many years ago. Nowadays Cognitive Behavioral Therapy seems popular since it deals with our reasoning ability and is usually but not always short term. To know one's self is beneficial especially in writing. I have discovered this about myself. permitting the inner self to write projects the creativity of the soul.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you kindly, Kevin, for the vote up and pin. I appreciate that very much. It's a look inside to what a lot of people feel about therapy but never say it. I hope it validates readers.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 2 years ago

      This sounded interesting Jan for those who have been through - or are in - therapy. I gave it thumbs up and pinned it.

      Kevin

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Glad you got it, Audrey. Thanks for that comment, always good to get the expert critique. Thanks for stopping by.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 2 years ago from California

      Yup! I get it! And you captured it so well here!

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Hi DaveOnline, glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for stopping by and reading.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      A valuable poem shared with helpful thoughts.

    • DaveOnline profile image

      David Edward Lynch 2 years ago from Port Elizabeth, South Africa

      I enjoyed reading your poem about being sensitive to your clients feeling of exposure when in therapy. I sometimes forget how sensitive so many people are.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you for saying that, Mark, you're welcome. I truly hope it touches both. I appreciate your visit to this poem hub.

    • Mark Tulin profile image

      Mark Tulin 2 years ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Great poem and perspective. I know it will have value to both therapist and client. Thanks

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you for pointing out that pearl of wisdom, MsDora. I appreciate your visit.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      You are very welcome, travjaj. It's always good to get a visit and comment from you. Thank you.

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      I'm touched that a particular line resonated with you. Thank you very much, clivewilliams, for liking this poem hub.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Your poem encourages counselors to change seats with counselees and understand their fear of exposure. With this attitude, even friends can be more helpful if they accept the fear of being vulnerable for what it is.Thank you.

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      How very true, I can feel the anguish. And much as we may need understanding the fear of not being understood is terrifying. And so much more. How much can we expose and be comfortable with. Takes time I guess. Thank you for this.

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 2 years ago from Nibiru

      Nice poem janshares,

      "I cannot trust you totally, my affect fades to blank

      So I retreat inside my head back to my cold think tank" - by janshares

      Yes, that's my line

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      Thank you very much, pstraubie48, for taking the time to read and send angels. Blessings to you.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      haven't been in this position about 30 years ago I can really relate to this I felt so vulnerable and untrusting and concerned I didn't continue therapy for those reasons and thankfully I have turned out pretty much okay great share angels are on the way to you today

    • janshares profile image
      Author

      Janis Leslie Evans 2 years ago from Washington, DC

      My goodness, what a generous comment, Sara. I appreciate that very much. I'm so glad you stopped by. Thank you for reading and voting up this poetry hub.

    • Sara Sarwar Riaz profile image

      Sara Sarwar Riaz 2 years ago from Michigan, USA

      This poem is reflective of the stark vulnerability in opening up the doors to ones soul and letting in the much feared elements as judgment, incursion and conjecture. Therapy can be perceived as a double edged sword… Very well written and psychedelically precise. Voted up.