What I Want You to Know About Therapy Before You Start
I was watching a video this morning about how therapy has helped people, but I also saw comments about negative experiences or dread over starting therapy. So, I thought, maybe my experiences could help put some people at ease because, whether you’re starting for the first time or the tenth time, starting therapy can be anxiety provoking. As someone who’s done this process so many times I’ve lost count, this is my advice for you:
1. Don’t stay with a therapist with whom you don’t “click.”
Most therapists will understand if there isn’t a solid connection, and you need to move on. I always say to have two or three sessions before making a final decision (unless they do something like #2 on this list.) If it causes anxiety to say something to your therapist about this, write an email, save the draft and if you still want to send it the next day, do. If you think you want to give them another chance, you can. You are in charge of your therapy, nobody else; don’t feel guilty for wanting your needs met.
2. Don’t accept any of your issues being belittled.
You sought out therapy for a reason; you don’t deserve to be told that reason is not valid.
3. Go into your session with an idea of what you’d like to gain from therapy.
To “be happy” or “be recovered” is not a good reason. Coping, communication, learning self-care/self-love and gaining awareness of your mental health are good reasons to start with. Recovery is possible if you are realistic with the process.
4. Don’t force yourself to talk about things you aren’t ready to.
Do tell your therapist if there are issues you aren’t ready to discuss just yet so they can be prepared to work on opening you up to talking about it slowly, and in a safe way for your well-being.
5. Be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself.
As I said above, it is a process. Sometimes you will start therapy and feel worse at times, but remember this is only because you’re facing issues and feelings you’ve been repressing. Trust the process of it.
As I said in the beginning: you are in charge of your own recovery. Be patient with yourself, be kind to yourself and speak up for what you need to heal. Always remember that seeking help is not shameful; it is a form of self-empowerment.
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