If you’ve decided it’s time to see a therapist/counsellor, or simply toying with the idea, then you’ve already done the hardest part by recognising that you need help with your mental health and wellbeing.
I booked my first appointment with my therapist George back in August 2019 and the expectation of our first session sent me into a panic.
What would he think of me? Would he pry and prod until he discovered my trigger points? I often wondered if he would make me lie down on a clinical couch, you know, like the one you see in the movies.
The unknown was nauseating.
Come d-day, I found myself in a small room (no couch in sight), sat in a big plush armchair, a box of tissues within arms reach and face to face with George, who I suspect is in his 40s.
** Before I dive into my experience with therapy, I just want to make it abundantly clear that your experience will be totally unique to you. Regardless, I still want to share some of the informalities that would have helped settle my nerves at the start.**
Open up at your own pace.
I carried this enormous pressure when I first met George about how much information I would have to share about myself. The reality is that the ball is in your court. You are in charge of the conversation.
In my day-to-day, I’m quite the talker but after a handful of sessions, I learnt that I’m more private than I let on. It took some time, but slowly I opened up to George and began exploring what I wanted and when I needed to.
Therapy is exhausting.
My sessions are like a 50-minute window to be selfish, with the work balance being about 80% from me, and 20% from him. As soon as I’m on my way home, I turn my phone off, make myself a nice dinner, get an early night and let my scrambled head unscramble itself.
Choosing a therapist is like dating.
Do you prefer to be with a woman or a man? What are you hoping to get from therapy? What about time or price range you are willing to commit? Interview as many therapists over the phone before you pick one. It’s free.
It can get worse before it gets better, then worse again.
When I first started making notable progress in therapy, I felt like I had reached the top of a steep mountain. Then, I would feel startled and frustrated when I all of the sudden found myself back on the ground staring up at another mountain to climb.
Therapy allowed me the space to grieve. But in doing so, I can tolerate more emotional difficulty, heal what can be healed and be more present with myself and loved ones.
Emotional check-ups are just as important as physicals. We all have anxieties, difficult relationships, frustrations at work, etc., and it’s OK to talk through it with an objective person who is there solely to listen.