In some past blogs, I’ve talked about therapy and how beneficial it can be as part of a self-care routine. But what really is it? I’d like to take a moment to demystify the process and give you an idea of what to expect if you or someone you know are thinking of trying it.
Therapy, aka counseling, can sound really scary. Stigma and an understandable discomfort with the idea of talking to a stranger about our lives and feelings can make the whole thing a non-starter for many.
The main thing to keep in mind is that therapy isn’t just for severe mental illnesses. People going through transitions (e.g. grief, divorce) or just feeling a lapse in social support in their life can benefit from the supportive nature of therapy. And if you’re already being treated for a condition via medications, therapy can be a great addition to improve symptoms faster!
So you’ve decided therapy might be worth a try. What next? Let’s break down the process:
- You search for a clinic and you call. You’ll be given availability or a wait list option. And they’ll check your insurance. Did you know that most insurances cover therapy at least to some extent? Many people have a co-pay or it may be fully covered, especially if a deductible is met. Some clinics offer discounts for clients without insurance!
- The intake session is scheduled. What is it? It’s usually an hour of information gathering. You’ll probably be asked about your current symptoms, medical history, medications, the basics. Therapists usually want to know about your current and childhood family life details as well. Social relationships, school/work, and hobbies are usually discussed.
- This is your chance to set some goals. Why therapy? Why now? What would you like to learn, improve upon, change?
- Ask questions if you need to! We (therapists) know that it’s scary to start the therapy process and we are happy to be transparent with you about what we might do, and we want to hear what you’re comfortable with and what you’ve already tried that did or didn’t work!
- Therapy sessions will be scheduled. It’s usually weekly, at least that’s what we recommend! Weekly sessions help build the relationship, which is so important!! (This means if you don’t click with your therapist, it’s normal and wise to try someone else. There won’t be hard feelings!)
- Therapists have different training, experience, and preferences for techniques they use and how they structure sessions. Therapy often deals with negative thought and behavior patterns and poor coping skills (e.g a lack of skills or the tendency to use maladaptive ones like drugs or avoidance) that lead to negative emotions and poor quality of life. There are ways therapists can guide you to face fears, relax, improve mood, build social support, and learn to look inside of yourself. A therapist is a guide on your journey. There are many different approaches out there but remember, it’s your journey, and you set your pace and your destination!
Remember, a therapist is just a human being whose job is to provide a safe space and support and to listen and guide you. If you can allow yourself to be a little vulnerable and grant yourself some time to focus on yourself, therapy is a great form of self care!
In my next blog, I will tell you about a wide range of different kinds of therapy techniques out there. I want to open up the concept of therapy to everyone, so that the idea doesn’t feel so scary and mysterious. I hope this helps!