Even considering therapy can be frightening but if you are just about to start your first therapy session then you may be nervous skeptical and frightened. A natural fear of the unknown can contribute to these feelings. Mental health professionals are there to help with these feelings and make you feel as comfortable as possible. Conquering this is often the first challenge to getting therapy but there are plenty more. This article will hopefully allay any fears that you do have and hopefully, help you get the help that you deserve and need.
Finding The Right Therapist
On one level therapy is a strange activity. You are expected to become vulnerable to a stranger trusting that they will be empathetic and help you cope with your struggles. This can be even more difficult if you don’t believe that your therapist will have had the experience of your problems. For example, many people in the LGBT community have said that they have struggled to find an LGBT-affirming counselor that they feel they can share their experiences.
However, don’t forget that it can be a relief to talk to someone who is completely out of your life. They have no stake and as such can see things from a different perspective. All a therapist wants to see you do is to succeed in your goals and be happy. They can help you focus on yourself and not have to worry about others in your life. A good therapist will be able to comfort you as well as care about your achievements.
One of the main complaints about attending therapy is the anxiety built up from not knowing what to expect. The easiest way to deal with this is to contact your therapist and ask what to expect when you schedule your first appointment. Whether you are attending the therapist’s office in person or on an online video call, the therapist will be able to run you through how everything will work from the moment the session begins.
Usually, for the first session, your therapist will ask you several questions about your symptoms and your history of illness. They will often summarize their first impressions of your issues and how they have presented themselves as well as an initial treatment plan including how often they would like to see you and any other resources that you may need.
During this time, you can ask questions about their diagnosis and the treatment plan as a whole. You can also let your therapist know about what kind of therapy you prefer.
It is very difficult to open up about the problems you are experiencing without thinking you are going to be judged. Know that your therapist is there to help you and not pick up gossip about strangers. Equally, remember that they are people and not robots. Therapists are trained to understand lots of issues from depression up to substance abuse. More than likely, anything you share with your therapist will be something they have heard before or have heard worse.
Interestingly, most therapists have been in therapy before. It is recommended as part of their training and work in the field. Fears are often a projection of what you think about yourself and not what others will believe about you. A therapist can help you break these down and help you to open up.
The thought of having to share and re-experience painful memories can be enough to put anyone off of attending therapy. Though, you do not need to share all of your most inner secrets at your first session. You can do this after building a rapport and relationship with them. Share things at a rate that is comfortable for you.
As you develop a stronger relationship with your therapist, you can let your therapist know when you are ready to discuss the more painful experiences. Many clients have reported feeling huge relief after finally sharing traumatic experiences. Though you can certainly pick a therapist who specializes in trauma and treatment.
Clicking With Your Therapist
Many therapists offer a free introductory session, sometimes over the phone or in the office to see if they are appropriate for you. This can help you see if the therapy sessions are going to work for you and to see if you get on. You can ask questions about their style and see if their areas of expertise overlap with issues that you are having.
It is normal for patients to meet with 2 or 3 different therapists before selecting one. Therapists know that not everyone is going to enjoy the way that they do things so are used to having clients move on to somebody else. You just need to find the therapist that makes you feel the most comfortable and has the tools to help you move forward.
You should know that it is normal for things to feel worse before they get better. It has been compared to deep cleaning your house. Getting started and pulling everything out is always the difficult part. However, once you start making progress and either getting rid of items you do not need or appropriately storing the ones you want to keep, you will start to feel better.
Also, therapy can trigger unpleasant memories which can make you feel worse. It is important to stick through the session to see if you can work through the issues. Resistance and defensiveness are natural, so take your time and don’t make any rash decisions. Know that it is not unusual to feel like this. You are not alone.
Getting therapy is nothing to be ashamed of. Maintaining your mental health is very important to your wellbeing and therefore you should not be put off by the daunting task of attending therapy. Take your time to research your therapist and see who will work for you. Importantly, if you do take the first step then take time to congratulate yourself on taking the first steps to better mental health.