Coming out of a particularly difficult depressive episode in 2014, I made the decision that ultimately changed the trajectory of my life. I decided to do the legwork and find a therapist to help me navigate where I was mentally.
Researching therapists, deciphering my insurance, picking up the phone to call, answering the receptionist’s questions about what I was struggling with, and actually showing up to the first appointment were all huge obstacles that I made it over.
Once I got into sessions with my first therapist, I could feel the fog start to lift. We went from weekly sessions, to biweekly, to monthly, to every other month as I progressed.
I had to switch therapists a few times (one switched careers, another went on maternity leave, another moved) and so there’s been stretches where I haven’t had an active relationship with a therapist.
Even though I’m “better,” I’ve still found that my life improves when I regularly (whether that’s weekly or bimonthly) have that space that’s solely dedicated to ME.
There’s no “And how are you?” after I get done sharing my truth.
There’s no “Sorry to bother you – I must have been talking forever.”
There’s no “Yikes! I’ve been monopolizing the whole conversation.”
It’s just space for me and my life. It’s so crucial that we all have access to an environment where we can flourish and share our most innermost feelings without judgement or ridicule.
If it’s been a while since you’ve been in therapy and you’ve been considering the value of returning, I encourage you to sit with the idea. If the first therapist you found wasn’t a good fit or you didn’t want to justify the expense or it was too far, consider what returning could do for your mental health.
For me, I’ve found that even if I’m not in “crisis,” having a sacred space for me to be wholly myself, free from distractions or obligations, keeps me balanced and in tune with myself, rather than managing everything on my own.
Thinking of heading back to therapy? SuiteHeart Keena Andrews, LMFT, shared with me these tips for anyone linking up with a new therapist:
- Share what did and didn’t work with the past therapist. True, some techniques may have to be replicated so she can see for herself how you do but if there are some things that absolutely didn’t work then let her know. And the same for what was helpful for you to open up (i.e. writing, having uninterrupted time to talk, giving you directives) and what helps to keep you motivated (i.e. frequency of appointments, verbal praises, support systems).
- Understand that although you have dealt with the issue for a long time the therapist is just now hearing it. Give therapy time and understand that any good therapist knows that therapy isn’t a one-size-fits-all and will need time to tailor your treatment to your needs.
- Relax. Therapy doesn’t have to feel so serious all the time. The more you are able to just be yourself the easier the process is. It’s like getting a pap smear — the more relaxed you are, the easier the process. LOL. But it’s okay to laugh and relax. The process seems to flow easier.
- Never feel ashamed to tell your therapist of a relapse or a poor decision. We’ve heard it all. It’s not going to shock us or disappoint us. We are here to help you get back on track, even if you trip and fall over the same situation over and over and over again. We understand habits are hard to break. Remember we are humans too.
It may not be easy but remember you are worth the time and money and energy it takes to be well.
For more information on Keena Andrews: Keena is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the South Georgia area. She has provided therapy for over 11 years. Ms. Andrews has a passion for working with children and youth and have helped them build their self esteem, practice healthy self care, improving academics, create healthy relationships and learn good habits that will prepare them for adulthood. She also works with parents to improve their communication with their child, build good self care habits and understand ways to be a support for the child at home and school.