Trust The Process: Helping Clients Overcome Anxiety
One of the first things I tell my client after I have educated them about the evidenced based treatment for anxiety or OCD is to trust the process. Our first few sessions can feel overwhelming for both clients and therapists. From developing a safe and trusting relationship to getting a thorough assessment, developing a good treatment plan, and practicing exposures there is a lot of territory to cover in a short amount of time yet it often feels like time is of the essence when our clients are suffering so severely with their symptoms and fears.
Trust the process means that if they can just get started practicing the skills we teach them, continue to persevere with these practices even when it feels like they are not getting better or OCD tricks them into believing they will never get better, eventually they will look back and realize they are better! For some this takes a few short weeks and for others it takes much longer. I ask my clients to practice patience and to give this an entire year to see the changes. Along the way they will see progress, we will celebrate even the tiniest of successes, and they will take tremendous pride in what they accomplish. But they will also struggle, feel like they want to give up, and doubt their progress. It can help to provide this information at the beginning of the therapy process and remind them of this when they might need a bit of a boost.
I have a picture hanging on my wall that a client gave me which says, “The leap is so far between where I am and where I want to be, because of all I may become, I will close my eyes and leap!”. I ask my clients what it feels like to get started, and they often say they are scared. This will mark the first of many times when I give them a high five for being scared and doing it anyway.