- Therapy isn’t one size fits all. Nothing in life should be. We were all uniquely and wonderfully made, therefore, our therapy should be as well. Surprisingly, there is a wide variety of therapists. I have ADHD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (plus a few other likely non-diagnosed things), therefore, it was important for me to find a therapist that understood anxiety as well as ADHD and the blurry mess that it all is for my brain. I know how brave it is to muster up the courage to even admit that therapy is needed, however, I want to plead with you to PLEASE do your research. Just because the sign says “counseling” doesn’t mean that they are an actual licensed therapist. It will likely be easier to find clinical psychologists in bigger cities and those with specific specialties. It is sometimes difficult to find exactly what you need in smaller places like our city. So first and foremost, do your research and find a place that feels like it might be a good fit.
- Therapy is expensive. This is honestly the biggest thorn in my side at this time. I hate that people have to choose between groceries and therapy. NO ONE and I mean not a SINGLE HUMAN should have to pay outrageous premiums or co-pays for their mental health. If most major insurance companies cover yearly wellness checks, then mental health wellness should also be covered. No questions asked. So once you have completed your research and you think you have found a therapist that specializes in your area of need, call your insurance company. Ask the organization in which your hopeful new therapist works if they offer any sliding scale fees, scholarships, grants, or assistance. I used to be embarrassed about asking for assistance until I had two children and was drowning and medical debt. If you happen to be employed, some agency has what is called an Employee Assistance Program that may offer free or reduced-cost sessions with a therapist. After spending several months paying out of pocket for it, I realized the importance of therapy. I even made changes to our entire family’s insurance plans this past year just to get on an insurance plan that had better coverage for mental health-based services. I did all these changes just because I have learned the value of prioritizing my mental health and well-being. There is only one way to find out… make the call.
- Therapy is hard. I don’t know why this thought didn’t occur to me before I started therapy, but it never really crossed my mind. Don’t get me wrong, not every session is hard, but ALOT of the sessions are. For me, therapy opened up my brain to think more. For someone who has about 34 years of repressed feelings, it was like opening up a can with one of that snake can toys. Once the seal was broken all the thoughts, feelings, and emotions flew out. Now, this doesn’t happen every week during therapy for me, however, I am more aware of my feelings and find myself becoming more emotional. I think in the past six months, I have only cried twice while in therapy, but for me, that is progress. Some sessions are lighter and feel like a flowy conversation with pauses for deep thoughts. While other sessions feel like we are digging out the junk that has been buried down in my chest. I have had friends share that once therapy started they began to have flashbacks. Or maybe they begin to remember moments in their life that seemed insignificant but were actual core moments in their life. One of my friends shared that she cried for an entire hour every session for at least the first three sessions. Basically what I am trying to say, is that it is not for the faint of heart. It is hard but like Glennon Doyle says in her book Carry on Warrior “These things will be hard to do, but you can do hard things” So Carry on my Warrior friends and do the hard things, you got this.
- Therapy isn’t magical. Therapy takes time. I with my type A personality over here thought that I would just attend a few session and check it off my to-do list while therapy would just magically fix all the problems in my life. I assumed that over a few consistent sessions, I would feel better and I would be whole. I didn’t expect it to heal my anxiety disorder but I certainly thought it wouldn’t be something I do forever. Yet, here I am weekly visiting with my girl Mary talking about life and working through my terrible coping (or lack of coping) skills. Some weeks I leave therapy with my brain all clear and confident while other weeks I leave a blubbing mess. I think it is important to understand that it all just takes time. If we can wait patiently for 40 weeks to grow an entire human, then we should give ourselves enough grace to try therapy for nine whole months. Isn’t our brain worth working on?
You can fire your therapist. Notice how number five didn’t start with the word “therapy” as the other four did? That is because I wanted to get the point across. Not all therapy is created equally and sometimes therapists suck. There is no sugar coating it. If you have done your research, called your insurance company, and sat down with a therapist that just isn’t working for you; you can fire them. You can pull the whole “it’s not me, it’s you” line. Wait, I messed that up didn’t I? You can pull the ole “ it’s not you, it’s me” line. (Insert a mischievous smile here). Sometimes you might not find the right fit on the first try. In the past year, I have seen three different therapists. The first one was straight up a quack. She spent the majority of the time talking about herself and would interrupt me mid-sentence to show me a breathing exercise that was more appropriate for a child than for me. Don’t get me wrong those therapy sessions were not all wasted, I just quickly learned my style and what I needed. The second therapist was kind and sweet, but she had no true feedback that I could chew on. Ya know, mull over, think about. I also found it very hard to relate to her and she had very little understanding of motherhood, this made it difficult to connect and share with her. Lastly, I tried my current therapist. By the time I found her, I was plum exhausted and did not want to have to share my entire story with another person. But I did. At the end of my intake session, she shared her thoughts, a little about herself, and then she stated that she would like to work with me if I were interested in working with her. She gives me feedback that I understand, she relates to motherhood and she laughs at my humor even though it’s a total defense mechanism. She knows that I am a pastor’s wife, but places no judgment on me. She is even okay with me using a few four-letter words when I just can’t find another word in my vocabulary that fits the type of passion I need to communicate. So in short, I found a great therapist but it took me working through a lot of not-so-great therapists to get to find the right fit. So please do not be afraid to fire your therapist. You wouldn’t pay a plumber for fixing a leaking toilet if it was still leaking once he left, right? Then don’t pay for a mediocre therapist, find the right one for your money.