Updated: Aug 21, 2020
I have been seeing a therapist on and off since 19 and let me tell you...
IT. IS. LIFE. CHANGING.
No lie, but you have to find the right therapist. And that can be what so many people don't realize and then give up when their first appointment doesn't feel right.
Just like your hairstylist, you have to find a therapist who makes you feel comfortable and that you can connect with.
For example, if you don't prefer seeing male physicians or dentists, you probably shouldn't be seeing a male therapist. If you're middle-aged, going through a divorce, you may not want to see a young therapist who specializes in addictions counseling. You get what I mean?
The first and biggest step to therapy is making the appointment. If you can make the appointment, you're half-way there. Now, just show up!
Here are some things you can expect when starting therapy.
1) It's going to feel uncomfortable at first,
But it gets better!
It is natural to feel uncomfortable and anxious the first time you meet a therapist. They are a stranger after all!
This might be your first time seeing a therapist, or maybe your other therapist moved or retired and now you have to start all over with a new one. Regardless of your situation, it's going to feel awkward the first session.
The good news is that it gets better as your sessions progress. You start to get more comfortable not only being open and honest about yourself (something we often have difficulty doing), but you also become more comfortable with your therapist.
Just remember, your therapist is on your side. They want to help you succeed and overcome your obstacles. They want you to be safe and healthy.
2) It is hard work,
but it's to help you grow and change for the better.
It's never easy to discuss the hard, shameful, guilty, and hidden parts of our lives, but the only way to change is to get past them.
Therapy isn't laying down on a couch, spewing an entire hours worth of words at your therapist like portrayed in the movies. Therapy IS work.
You will have assignments, like homework, that your therapist will have you do between sessions. You and your therapist may do an intervention, a tool used during therapy, together during your session.
If this sounds intimidating, don't let it be! The payoff is 100% worth the work.
3) You may be recommended medication.
While your therapist or counselor can't prescribe medication, they may recommend that you see a psychiatrist or your primary physician to be prescribed a medication to help.
Remember, there is NO shame in taking a medication for your mental illness. It is no different from taking medication to help your headache or heal you from the flu.
Medications don't have to make you feel like a different person, groggy, or numbed. I have been on a low dose of an SSRI (short for selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor) for years and I have never felt better! While it doesn't "cure" my mental illness, it helps me be able to overcome and control it. I still have anxiety and symptoms of my mental illness daily, but the medication aids in my own ability to get better.
You may not like the idea of taking medication, but it could be what you need, so don't dismiss it. It is always important to discuss any medications (pharmaceutical or natural) with your physician before taking them.
4) People won't always understand
Unfortunately, a stigma around mental health and therapy still exists.
When you start therapy/ medication/ mental health work, people won't always understand. And that can often be the people closest to you.
It's hard to stay motivated to continue going when you feel judged.
Just remember, going to therapy is for YOU, not them. Let people believe or say what they want, but ultimately, your well-being is more important.
5) It will change your life
Therapy can be beneficial in so many ways and if you put the effort in, it will change your life.
You do not need a diagnosis of a mental disorder to attend therapy. Maybe you just need to work through grief or trauma? Maybe you are feeling overwhelmed by everyday anxieties and need someone to talk to?
The best part of therapy is that it works and anybody can do it!
Hope this can encourage you as your start your journey in therapy.
Tell me in the comments about your experience with therapy.
*Disclaimer: I am not a licensed therapist, I DO NOT provide diagnosing or medical advice. Please consult your physician or a licensed therapist for such services. If you have an immediate mental health emergency, please call 911.
photo credit: unknown.