Ten things

…I want to tell you if you’re thinking about seeing a therapist for the first time.

I know that most os my readers already have therapy experience so perhaps this post doesn’t make any sense at all but I still want to write it as there might be some people around who haven’t seen a therapist so far but would like to try it. I remember reading lots of blog before starting my first (and second) therapy and I think it might have been easier for me if someone had told me these things:

1. Don’t waste time wondering if therapy could help you.
I know that I spent years telling myself that my problems were either too insignificant or that nobody could help me anyway and both of these things are bullshit. If you reckon that you have the sort of problems a therapist could help with – they probably can.

2. Don’t wait for it to get worse.
Many of us needed a sort of breakdown before realizing that we actually do need help but it’s really not necessary to wait that long – on the contrary, the sooner problems are recognized and tackled the easier they can be solved.

3. Educate yourself.
Fortunately we live in times where it’s extremely easy to get information – about doctors, about therapists, about diagnoses, you name it. I find that it has helped a lot to read about my diagnoses and to find out what kind of medical help and support groups there are in my area. It’s also useful to read a little about different types of therapy as some methods might help you better than others.

4. If the chemistry is not right – leave.
It’s not likely that you’ll find the perfect therapist (if there is such a thing) on the first try. I know I didn’t and if you’ve read older blog posts here you know how discouraged I was after my first therapy failed. Since then I’ve found a therapist whom I got along with straight away and that is the most important thing. So if you don’t feel safe with someone – don’t waste your time (and theirs).

5. Be stubborn when it comes to refund and insurance stuff.
Unfortunately mental illnesses are still stigmatized, even when you’re talking to people who should know better. So if your doctor or your insurance try to tell you that you don’t need therapy or that they won’t support it, continue asking and requesting and inquiring because they might give in. I know from experience that this can be really, really hard so if you feel you can’t do it on your own find someone who can support you with this stuff.

6. Allow yourself to try things that might seem weird.
Especially when you’re starting therapy, some exercises may seem pretty strange but if you trust the person you’re with – just try. I know that some stuff I have to do as homework seems quite quirky but everything that helps is fine. Period.

7. Take your time.
Obviously, therapy is a process but I don’t just mean that you will have to be patient before huge things start changing. Expect to be exhausted after sessions and take your time to rest. In my experience it’s not a good idea to schedule lots of stuff before or after a session. Also, you might need some time for homework and exercises and you don’t want to rush that kind of stuff.

8. Find out what you want to accomplish (and write it down).
Most therapists will ask you what you’d like to achieve so it’s a good idea to take a sheet of paper and write down the most important issues you want to tackle. If you get nervous or emotional, you can still read out what you’ve thought about and won’t forget anything important.

9. Tell them what you’re thinking.
Of course it will take time until you can trust a therapist but nevertheless it’s important that you’re as open as possible – if you’re not they can’t help you. So also tell them the ugly, uncomfortable or strange things. Keep in mind that they’ve probably heard lots of weird stuff before. They won’t be as surprised or taken aback as you’re imagining.

10. You’re so brave.
Getting to the point where you decide to see a therapist and opening up about painful stuff can be one of the bravest things you’ll ever do in your life. So, at least in my eyes, you’re a hero. And if anyone tries to tell you that you’re a freak, keep in mind that you are one of the few people who are honest enough to admit that some things need to change. Seeing a therapist is not selfish – on the contrary: it will not just help you but also the people you love and they should be able to see that. You’re awesome!

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