To the Only Psychologist Who Ever Understood Me
To The Only Psychologist Who Ever Got Me,
I came into your office with years of baggage, and years of past therapy experiences that had all gone terribly wrong. I came in scared, anxious and hopeless. I had no reason to believe you would be any different than the others. I wanted to have an open mind about it, but I had extremely low expectations.
Yet, from the second I walked into your office, I knew this was going to be a little better. You were young. Your room was spacious. The couch had a window next to it that I could stare out of when I didn’t know how to answer your questions. You sat a comfortable distance away from me, and the session was only 45 minutes instead of 60.
You didn’t feverishly write notes down whenever I said something. You didn’t talk to me with a clipboard in your hand. You didn’t judge me. And you apologized when you put me in situations I wasn’t comfortable in — something no therapist had ever done before. You were the first therapist who didn’t push the “why.” Every other therapist had been so intent on how and why the depression and anxiety started. They made me feel so dumb that I didn’t have an answer. You were the first to ever validate that maybe there didn’t have to be concrete reason. Maybe I wasn’t “crazy” that I didn’t have that answer. It was OK. You were the first person who ever focused on what I could do now, instead of hashing out the past. Thank you.
You were straight with me. Other psychologists would tell my parents one thing and me another. You were honest and kept communication clear. Thank you for that. You were also the only therapist I ever felt like whose office truly was a “safe” place. Every psychologist says that, but I had never felt safe in an office with a mental health professional before. There were things I could tell you that I had never told other psychologists — things that I felt like were off-limits, or things that would label me as something other than what I was.
You adapted to what I needed. You knew that verbally expressing my thoughts and feelings was difficult, so you let me write it out and bring that in. And you asked for it each time which was nice because I would’ve been too scared to pull it out myself.
Most of all, you actually helped me. All previous therapists had hurt me more than helped, but not you. I actually could see progress within myself through the time I spent working with you, something I had never seen. Even when no one else saw that progress, you did. You saw me. Thank you.
You restored my faith in mental health professionals. I still haven’t found a therapist who actually helps after you left, but at least now I know they do exist. To anyone reading this who hasn’t had the best experiences with therapy – there really are people out there who can help. I promise. Don’t lose that hope. To the psychologist who got me to believe that, you changed my life.
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Thinkstock photo via Grandfailure