Think of this as part three to my mental health series. I decided to take a break in between, write on some other topics. Apologies, writing those pieces (Why I See a Therapist Part one and Two) woke up some emotions, and I needed to take a step back.
So, you are curious about seeing a therapist? Maybe you have noticed some pockets in your mental health that could use some outside help. No matter how "big" or "small" your personal monsters may be, a therapist is helpful to have to bounce your thoughts and ideas off of, and ultimately, get a fresh perspective. Here are some tips when going on your own mental health journey based on what I have learned in mine...
- Start by sitting with yourself.
I highly recommend journaling. I love to journal. Granted, I have been doing it since the 4th grade...but it really is therapeutic
Take some time to think about what you would like to focus on with a therapist. Do you feel depressed? Carrying around anxiety? Having a hard time with your parent's divorce? Take notice of what emotions come up. Writing in a journal not your thing? Take some notes in your phone or planner. Pay attention to negative or worrisome emotions when they emerge.
- Do some research.
There are plenty of therapists to go around. What are your needs? Some counselors specialize in families and marriage counseling, others in substance abuse, mine has a background in grief and and her practice is called "Honoring the Journey". She works out of a church and will often refer to the Bible when we meet. Just like people, each therapist is unique and has their own take on a variety of circumstances. After his girlfriend committed suicide, my boss' son went to a therapist who had a lot more direction than he wanted. Instead of absorbing his story, the therapist did a lot of "You're going through ___ and you should___". For some, that's exactly what they need, direction and life prescriptions. For others, you just need an ear. Decide what YOUR needs are and find a few therapists that fit those needs. Read their websites, get information on their practice. See what feels right for you.
- Reach out.
Now is when you have to step out and take some action. This step can be daunting, but don't get too skiddish, they are all here to help! Call, email or even text (if they do that) a therapist that you are interested in. Ask them what they charge per session, how long is a session, if they take insurance and while you have already read their webpage, ask them what they specialize in so you can hear it in their own words. Often, you can go in for a thirty minute consultation for free.
- Your first visit.
You've had a meeting with yourself, done your research, made the call and you're ready for your first session. Step one- relax. This person is here to help. Just have a conversation. Your therapist is looking to get to know you as a person, understand your needs and get an idea for where he/she fits in or if he/she can sincerely be of service to you. Never feel obligated to stay with a therapist. If you don't get the energy/vibe that makes you feel comfortable, move on.
I have been blessed with a fantastic therapist who listens before engaging. Periodically she will check in to ensure that we are conversing and going over topics which I find helpful. Personally, I wanted a Christian-based therapist, so that is what I looked for. Be specific in your search and know that you are not alone in your journey. Really, I believe everyone should see a therapist every so often. Its good for the soul.