Seeing a therapist for the first time can be a nerve-racking experience. Opening up about your life and relationships to a complete stranger can stir up a lot of anxiety. If you are an introvert or a person who is constantly suppressing their emotions, talking about your mental health to anybody is tough. But sometimes, we just need to let it all out so you can breathe free again. Have you been considering seeing a therapist?
I hope this helps you before you step out on your journey!
Before you decide to seek medical help, ask yourself what your end goal is. Is there a particular reason you want to see a therapist? Understand what you seek from the process beforehand. Talking to a qualified mental health professional is not going to be the same as talking to a friend or a loved one. It is uncomfortable opening up to a complete stranger and it might take some time before you are completely honest and comfortable with your therapist.
Just because your friend said that therapy ‘changed her life’, it might not be the best approach for you. Before you seek an appointment, understand the basic difference between various mental health professionals.
A psychologist is required to have an advanced degree in Psychology, can diagnose disorders in their clients and may prescribe medication if required. Psychologists and psychiatrists often work together to diagnose and treat patients. A therapist is often a licenced therapist who is trained in counselling people. Therapists can further have specializations like children, general therapy, couples or marriage counselling and life coaches. A therapist, however, isn't licenced to prescribe you any medication.
Therapy is expensive, a single session (30-50 minutes) can cost you between INR 1,500-5,000 depending on your location and your therapist. And therapy is a process, you can’t gauge at the start how many sessions you may need to feel better. Some people need just a few, while others may need months or even years of counselling. Be prepared to be willing to spend money on your mental wellbeing.
The day of therapy and even after, it might be hard to come to terms with everything you’re feeling. It’s normal to be overwhelmed in the initial few sessions but it does get better with time. You may end up crying in front of your therapist and it’s okay. It’s more awkward for you than it is for them, I assure you.
Finding the right therapist isn’t as easy as picking someone based on Google reviews. Trust your gut and figure out how your initial few sessions are going. If you still aren’t comfortable then it might be time to look for a new therapist.
As hard as it may seem to face your worst fears, you have to be absolutely honest with your therapist. Even if that finally means telling yourself the truth. And don’t worry about your therapist judging you, they’ve seen worse.
When it comes to therapy, not everyone has an open mind about the process. It’s normal for your loved ones to be concerned about your mental well being but if that concern turns into judgement, you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. Keep such people at arms distance while you can fully heal. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt is that people will pretend to support you through your process and then call you out for having mental health issues when convenient, so be careful who you let in on your process.
If something doesn’t feel right during therapy, trust your gut and stop yourself from moving forward. This could be advice from your therapist or anything else that doesn’t sit well with you. But remember that even though it might seem like you’re really far from being where you truly want to be - it gets better. You just have to trust the process.
Therapy isn’t about you letting someone else run your life, the therapist just steers you in a direction you already want to be. While they may give you advice from time to time, don’t be afraid to ask questions and disagree with them.
A lot of people believe that if you see a therapist you are weak, depressed, unstable or even on medication. Maybe you yourself at some point had that opinion. Seeking professional help doesn’t make you weak, it only makes you stronger. It will teach you to reason with yourself, make your decisions based on logic, rationale and not your emotions.
It seems like a tough process, but it gets better. Hang in there!
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