My name is Victoria Schweiger, and I’m a therapist who specifically focuses on helping those affected by OCD and anxiety-related concerns. For some of my clients, I was their first therapist, and when meeting with me, it was their very first session. For others, I was one of the many therapists to whom they had told their stories. Anyway, here are some things that I wish all clients were aware of when new to therapy.
Things your New OCD Therapist Wants You to Know
You are brave.
When starting therapy, many of my clients would not use the adjective “brave” to describe themselves. OCD has convinced them that they are anxious people who are always afraid. But meeting with a therapist is a brave thing! Bravery is persevering despite fear, not without fear. It’s a vulnerable undertaking to share aspects of your life with a stranger. I want you to know I think you are courageous for showing up in the first place.
I don’t think much you say will surprise me.
Therapists know that whatever you don’t want to think about is probably what OCD makes you think about. We also know that compulsions come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. Whatever you are thinking or doing, I’ve likely heard some variation of the theme before. You may judge yourself for your thoughts or compulsions, but I won’t. If anything (and maybe it sounds strange), there is no other time I feel more connected to my clients than when they share their obsessions and compulsions openly.
I am so grateful for my clients’ trust, because I get to help them understand that they are not alone. Many other people with OCD struggle with similar obsessions and compulsions. If you share with an OCD therapist, you will likely hear them say, “I’ve heard that before.” When you share with them the fact you tap something a certain number of times, or that you do extra laundry because you can’t wear any clothes that have touched the floor it will not surprise them. Additionally, a therapist will not think that you are “crazy”, “dangerous”, or “stupid”. Instead they will think you are a brave human being who is doing their best to manage OCD.
We’re in this together.
Hey, I acknowledge I am not you. I don’t know firsthand the guilt, shame, or anxiety that OCD brings to you. What I mean by “we’re in this together” is that I will be along for the journey. I want you to know that I’m on your team. I won’t have every answer, but part of treatment is learning that no one always has the “right” answer or does the “right” thing all the time. My goal is to have you feel understood and supported, while challenging you to live the life you desire. It won’t always be easy, but I’m going to be here every step of the way.