Recently, there have been a lot of BuzzFeed articles and YouTube videos about depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. I think this is wonderful. I believe that removing the stigma that hovers around mental illness is a big step in the right direction. It will not only help others understand what sufferers are going through, but will also let the victims feel confident enough to seek help.
One of the biggest fears of those suffering from mental illness is going to therapy. Not only is the idea of talking to some random person about your problems overwhelming and terrifying, but also having to say to people “Sorry, I’ve got therapy at that time” or “My therapist said . . .” is equally intimidating. Of course, you can be vague when explaining why you can’t do something or why you’re acting differently, but you probably don’t want to lie or act sketchy.
I currently attend therapy and I have for roughly four years. It’s been a long road and sometimes it’s been hard. Facing myself and my issues have been heart-wrenching and sometimes embarrassing, but incredibly freeing and eye-opening. My ultimate goal is to get to a point where I don’t need to attend therapy anymore, and it’s so close that I can taste it.
I’ve been to several therapists and support groups throughout the years (yeah, plural) and I’ve learned a few tips and tricks that can make visiting the therapist a little easier. *Disclaimer: I am not a psychologist or medical professional in any way. These are just my opinions.
Find the right therapist for you.
Just like your problems are unique, a psychologist’s methods are unique. Sure, they all follow the basic structure and are highly educated, but perhaps their personality doesn’t mesh with you or their counseling style puts you on edge.
The very first therapist I had . . . wasn’t my favorite. He wasn’t a terrible person and I’m sure that he has helped many other people, but his super laid back attitude didn’t do it for me. I need someone who acts much more engaged as though we are having a conversation.
Maybe you want someone who only listens and doesn’t say anything until the very end. Maybe you want someone who calls you out on your BS. Maybe you need a specific type of psychologist for your needs (one specialized in PTSD, OCD, sexual assault, etc.). It might take a little time, but finding the one for you will make all the difference.
Be prepared to talk.
I’ve known lots of friends who attend therapy who refuse to talk. While many of the issues that you need to talk about are sensitive, you need to open up. Psychologists have been specially trained to help you move through your issues and if you don’t express yourself, they can’t help you. Just like if you don’t tell your general practitioner your symptoms, they won’t be able to diagnose you.
Take their advice seriously.
So you’ve spilled the beans and your counselor told you what you should do next. Why go through all the trouble of making the appointment, traveling across town, paying a fee, and then sitting on a chair and talking to this person when you’re not going to listen to them? Of course, you don’t have to follow everything they suggest, but listening to what they have to say may help you. Their advice will range from homework like journaling or confronting people who have wronged you or that you have wronged.
If at any time you think that something won’t help, tell them. Maybe they misunderstood you or maybe you just don’t feel ready. You will have to step out of your comfort zone, but they don’t want to push you so far that it’s no longer beneficial. If you start feeling uncomfortable, communicate clearly with them and they will find an alternative for you.
Consider a group setting.
Perhaps you need the views of other several people or you want to see that you’re not alone. A group in addition to one-on-one therapy or on its own may be a viable solution to what you’re dealing with. Perhaps you can learn from the experiences of others or simply feel a little bit of camaraderie.
Don’t be afraid to tell your friends about it.
First of all, anyone who severely judges you for attending therapy is someone you don’t want in your life anyway. Second, you don’t have to go around with a stamp on your forehead that says “My therapist says I’m normal”. Only share this information with those you trust. Most likely, your friends and family will appreciate that you shared something so close with them. They’ll also probably be very supportive and willing to help you out with anything you need.
In my experience, talk-therapy is a viable and effective option for those suffering from mental illness. It’s nice to have someone to talk to who is unbiased and who has been trained to help you. While I have wonderful friends and family members who are willing to listen, sometimes they don’t know what to say or their bedside manner isn’t the best. I believe that you if at least try going to therapy, you could find new ways to deal with or even solve your issues.
I hope your day is going well and that you’re finding happiness. Thank you for stopping by!