8 Things to Consider when Seeking Therapy
1.) Not every therapist is a good therapist for you. Make sure whoever is guiding you along your healing journey has their own healing journey. We wouldn’t choose a math tutor who doesnt understand the process of making mistakes before getting to the right answer. That would be a harsh, degrading and unpleasant tutoring session, and certainly not what we want in a mental health professional.
2.) Counselors have specialties, which mean we have dedicated our time, money, education path, required training hours, counseling experience and research to discovering best practices for assisting with certain issues. Make sure the counselor/psychologist/psychiatrist you wish to meet with specializes in your specific concerns.
3.) You can terminate therapy at any time. If you for whatever reason don’t eventually feel comfortable being completely honest with your therapist, perhaps there is a better fit in someone else, or you may want to work on the shame interfering with your therapeutic relationship in session.
4.) You can correct your therapist at any time. Let your therapist know if/when they misunderstand something, hurt your feelings, say something you don't agree with, disappoint you in some way, make you feel uncomfortable, encourage you to talk or share when you aren't ready to do so or don't want to, move on to another topic too quickly or give you a strategy that doesn't work for you.
5.) Don’t expect immediate gratification. While you should leave therapy feeling understood and free of your therapist’s judgment, you may leave a session with more questions than answers every now and then. Trust the process if you trust your therapist.
6.) Interview therapists for the job. Read about them on their website, Psychology Today or online business profiles. Choose to meet a therapist before committing to regular therapy. Trust your instincts about whether or not you believe someone can help you.
7.) It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Shifting deeply-ingrained ways of thinking and behaving takes time. Good therapy actually rewires the brain, but our brain has a habit of slipping us back to what’s familiar, even when it no longer serves us or we “know better.” Once you’ve found someone who nearly feels like a friend, a hug, and an equal, but just happens to know a lot about being human, (as a result of extensive education, self-study and constant critical thinking), stick with it. Good things DO come to those who work hard, then wait.
8.) Finally, don’t let a therapist tell you how to live your life, make your decisions for you, or dictate what’s best for you. A competent counselor should give you proven strategies to try, pose optional suggestions when requested, ask questions that make you wonder if you’re on a path that feels good to you, and provide different ways to think of things, but a quality counselor also understands everyone is different and only the client ultimately has the answers for what’s best for the client.
Seeking therapy is courageous and honorable if you are struggling to manage your life. I hope these points help you on your healing journey, if you choose to go on one.