Deciding to start therapy and/or look for a therapist can be a big step. It comes with a lot of questions, a lot of “what if’s..” which can make the whole process of starting that much harder. Here’s a list of 7 things to keep in mind as you consider reaching out:
1. It’s OK to do this
Many, many people go to counseling. Sometimes they talk about it with their friends or family, sometimes they don’t. People from all walks of life. One of the major lies (spoken or unspoken) is “I’m supposed to be able to do this myself” or “I’m weak if I need counseling.” So, it’s likely more people around you are going or have gone than you think. You’re not alone. You’re not broken. You’re not weak. In fact, more people should go but don’t because they’re believing the lies I mentioned above. If there’s someone you know who has gone to therapy, ask them, “are you glad you went?” “Would you go again?” It’s very likely they’ll tell you it was a good thing for them.
2. Getting started shouldn’t be a hassle
It’s hard enough (sometimes) to decide to set up counseling, you shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to make it happen. All too often I hear stories of people making calls and not hearing back. Even the busiest professional should be able to take a few minutes to let you know they’re not taking any new clients etc. Maybe not in 10 minutes, but without considerable delay. People shouldn’t be left in limbo and if they need to keep looking, they should find out ASAP.
3. Find the right fit for you
There’s a lot of different types of therapists out there. You may be more comfortable talking to one type of person then another. Maybe you know this, maybe you don’t. The best way to find out is to read their information, watch an introduction video if they have one and if possible, set up a short consultation. This gives both you and the therapist an opportunity to determine if it’s a good fit without having to set up a session…however, if you DO attend the first session and realize you need to keep looking, DON”T GIVE UP. The right person is out there and you can find them.
4. There won’t be a magic wand
Therapy takes time and work. You won’t be transformed just from showing up. Developing clear, measurable goals with your therapist allows you to track your progress. If you’re not seeing any progress, bring it up! Therapists should welcome these types of conversations. They can be very helpful to determine what’s helping, what’s not helping and what might be missing. Keep in mind, as we would want the therapist to be open to these conversations, it’s important that you are as well.
5. It should be collaborative
As I often tell clients, “I’m not going to talk at you for 50 minutes and I’m not going to just sit and nod for 50 minutes.” There should be a give and take. If you feel like you’re doing all the work or that you don’t have an opportunity to share, it’s a problem. Plan to get the most out of your session as possible by jotting down notes in between sessions of things you notice or find yourself thinking about. Sometimes, your therapist might assign homework. Relax, no algebra here…but homework’s a great way to stretch the action of a session into your daily life.
6. You might enjoy it more than you think
Don’t get me wrong, therapy can be difficult and even painful because of what you’re working on…however, the process of working with a personable, trained professional should make this as comfortable as possible. Think about it this way, ever had someone pull out a splinter? Or get a shot? These aren’t pleasant experiences, but having someone who takes a caring, patient, empathetic approach makes all the difference.
7. It’s OK if you come back to therapy in another season of life
Therapy isn’t always a “once and done” experience. You might have something you want or need to work through now and there might be something different in the future. That’s normal and very much OK. Sometimes those things might be related, but not always. We have different things we encounter and experience as we live our lives and it’s OK to want or need support down the road. It doesn’t mean you “failed” the first time around. I’ve had clients who pop back in for one session, a couple of times a year because they see the value in it. Maybe you come back to the same therapist, maybe you need someone different. That’s OK too! It doesn’t mean the first person didn’t help you, it might just be that you need someone who’s more specialized or just a better fit this time around.
At Lime Tree Counseling, we have a team of professionals who might be a fit for you. You may be at a place in your life where you’re needing the help of grief counseling or trauma counseling. You might want to start drug and alcohol counseling. Maybe it’s the time to improve your marriage through couples counseling. Check out what we offer and if you’d like to schedule with us, reach out. We actually return calls (and emails)!