One of the most common struggles and barriers to seeing a therapist is 1. you’ve tried therapy before and it has sucked or 2. you haven’t tried it but it seems so intimidating. I will be the first one to say – not every therapist is for every person. As a therapist, knowing our limitations and our lane is essential. This is what creates a deeper and more attuned connection to our clients and also what often helps them succeed. What makes therapy work is the relationship you have with your therapist and finding the right method for you.
If therapy has sucked for you before:
Really look back at your experience and assess what didn’t work. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Did you feel seen and heard by this person?
- When you were there, was it always a focus on problem solving?
- Were you wanting to share information with your therapist or withhold it?
- Were there times that you didn’t want to express something & why?
- Has it been too focused on thinking and not enough on feeling?
- Do you feel like you have the insight but not the follow through?
At different points in our lives we need different personal development. Even a therapist that has worked well for you for years – may not be a fit for your current season. So take some time in reflecting what do you need? Talk therapy, skill building, relationship management, trauma work, mind/body connection. These are all different focuses of therapists, getting to know what you want helps guide you to a better fit.
If seeing a therapist feels intimidating:
We get it, most of us have had to go through our own therapy in grad school, partially for this reason. So we can really notice and feel what it is like to walk into a room with a total stranger and be expected to spill our life story to this person. It is intimidating and scary. A therapist should not expect you to walk into an office and be able to lay it all out there, it takes time and trust to build up that level of vulnerability. ItA part of our job is supporting you in getting to that place, not expecting it from the get-go.
One thing that can be helpful when considering seeing a therapist is doing a free consultation call with them and asking some questions. On the phone you will get a feel for if this person is easy to talk to, if it sounds like they know how to help you with your struggles and if they are non judgmental. Some questions you might want to ask:
- How do you work with ____? (your specific struggle inserted here)
- What types of therapy do you use and can you explain them a little to me?
- What does your availability look like and how often are you able to see me? (Most people need every other week minimum to start)
- What do you enjoy most about being a therapist?
- I am feeling a little apprehensive about therapy, how do you typically support people with that?
You are interviewing this person just as much as they are interviweing you. It is okay if they aren’t a good fit call around some more. Here are some websites that might be helpful in searching for a therapist:
Patrice Flanagan-Morris, LCSW
Empowerment Within LLC