Hi, friends! Another day; another guest post for Shattering Stigmas– today, Cindy is here to talk about what she’s learned from years of therapy and to give you some tips on what to expect. Let’s get into it!
(P. S. Make sure to check out the masterlist of Shattering Stigmas 4.0 posts so you don’t miss any content from our five wonderful hosts!)
I have been in therapy for twenty years. Not continuously, but off and on. In the beginning, I would find a therapist and go until I was feeling better, and then stop until my life fell apart again. Now I know better. I go once a week, every week, no matter what.
I haven’t seen the same therapist the whole time, but I’ve seen enough different therapists– some psychologists, some social workers, some “therapists”– to have a few things I can share with you about the whole process, for those of you who are looking for someone or who aren’t sure that their current situation is working out.
First, don’t expect the right therapist to fall in your lap. Do your research. I know it can be overwhelming, especially since you’re probably not doing great to begin with. But grab a snack, find a quiet spot, and start looking online. Psychology Today has a good website. Also ask around. Ask your doctor and if you applicable, check with your insurance. Then read about these names online. What issues do they treat? Are they accredited? Is their office nearby? If you’re not using insurance, will they give you a cash discount? What’s their cancellation policy? Will they text you a reminder?
All this is before your first appointment. When you actually meet, there are some things to look out for. They should introduce themselves a little, explain their therapeutic approach. Is this cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectal, something else? Then it’s your turn. What are your goals for this relationship? Do you have one big issue you want to work on, like addiction or grief? Or do you need to work on your general mental health? It’s super important to be honest. It’s hard to open up to someone you just met, but if you can’t start off by being honest, it’s not going to help. You don’t have to share your whole life story right away, but if you’re in there because of abuse or trauma or suicidal thoughts, say so.
Then you really have to give it a couple of visits before you can tell whether this is a good fit. A good therapist should be honest, professional, and a little pushy. They may be nice and easy to talk to, but if they aren’t disagreeing with you now and then, you could just talk to the mirror and save your money. They should also validate your feelings while helping you see where you need to change. If it’s not feeling right after 2 or 3 visits, it’s time to try again.
I hope this is helpful. Like I said, change doesn’t happen overnight. Twenty years later, and I’m STILL learning new things, but it’s been so worth it.
Thanks so much for this immensely helpful post, Cindy! (I 100% second the Psychology Today database– it’s been immensely helpful for me when I’ve had to find a new therapist.)
Do you have any tips or advice about going to therapy? Share them in the comments!