express feelings in therapy

How to Open Up and Sincerely Express Your Feelings in Therapy

It can be hard to express your feelings in therapy when you’re in treatment for a substance use disorder. The key element to your success is opening up. However, expressing your feelings can be a complicated process. You may not know how to answer the questions your therapist asks. In fact, you may not even know how you feel! 

Here are some tips for opening up and expressing your feelings in therapy for addiction treatment, both with your therapist and among your peers. Remember to give yourself time and patience, as it’s very normal to feel uncomfortable sharing in the beginning. However, with practice and determination, you can get there. 

Why is it So Hard to Open Up About Feelings? 

Have you ever left an important conversation mad at yourself for how you handled things? Maybe you didn’t say how you felt, or maybe you told the person what they wanted to hear, not your true thoughts. There are many reasons why this happens: 

  • Difficult topics. Some topics bring up big emotions, and it’s common to want to hold back. You may not want to ‘get into things’ at the moment or experience painful emotions. 
  • Attachment issues. If you suffered trauma in your childhood, you may have attachment issues that make it difficult to form secure connections with others. This can make opening up especially difficult. 
  • Social norms. Some families and cultures discourage mental health and vulnerability. You may feel pressured to maintain the image of ‘having it all together’ or feel badly about ‘complaining.’ 
  • Personality. Your individual personality can also impact how comfortable you are sharing your feelings with others. Some people are an open book, while others are more reserved. 

Tips for Talking About Your Emotions 

It’s important to talk about your feelings when you’re in mental health treatment, as this is the key to healing. Holding back will only stunt your recovery. Keep in mind that sharing your thoughts and feelings is good for your mental health, and is connected to improved well-being and emotional regulation. 

Here are some tips to help you open up in therapy: 

  • Think about what you want to talk about. It can help write down the things you want to discuss in therapy ahead of time, such as specific experiences or feelings you’ve encountered. 
  • Keep calm. Take some time to mentally prepare for your session. Practice deep breathing, meditate or listen to calming music. If you are traveling back and forth to outpatient treatment, make sure to leave yourself plenty of time to get there. 
  • Focus on how you feel. If you’re not sure what to say, focus on how you feel in the moment. Using “I” statements can help you navigate conflict and develop self-awareness skills. 
  • Be honest. Being open and honest about how you feel can build stronger connections with others. Sometimes, it just takes some practice. Make a commitment to be honest about what you share, even if you share very little. 
  • Consider alternative methods. If you continue to struggle with opening up, ask your therapist about other methods, such as art therapy or music therapy. They can give you homework to return to your next session. 

Weekly Therapy Sessions in Agoura Hills, CA

Awakenings Treatment Center is an outpatient rehabilitation center in Agoura Hills, CA. We treat substance use and mental health disorders using a wide variety of evidence-based and alternative therapies. 

We recognize that the key to opening up is partnering with the right mental health professionals. Our therapists and counselors are highly trained and experienced, and they have a deep passion for helping others heal from trauma, mental illness and addiction.

To learn more about our therapeutic treatments and how we can support your journey, contact Awakenings Treatment Center today.