Therapy—a scary word for some, helpful to others, and a life changing experience nonetheless.
The first time I was recommended to go to therapy, my immediate thoughts were, “I don’t need therapy” and “I don’t have time.” All normal and common responses. Hesitation on my part was present. It wasn’t until my final year at my university that I realized I needed therapy. I was biting off more than I could chew in regards to school, my internship, my personal life, and my family. I was an expert at avoiding talking about my feelings about and simply brushing them underneath the table. I’ve been an expert since I was 14, shortly after my Dad passed away. I created a mindset of everyone else first and then me, but I never got to me. Almost 10 years of pent up emotions were ready to finally combust, until one day they did.
Setting an appointment was the first step. Because I was attending university and pay a health fee every semester, therapy was included in those fees. For those of you who go to college and have wanted to try therapy, I suggest doing it while you’re in school because it’s either included in your health fees or you will have access to a low cost option. Therapy when you’re not a student is expensive, to say the least.
Typically, your first appointment is not a therapy session but an intake session. During an intake session, you meet with a therapist and explain to them why you want to go to therapy. If you’re anything like me and you have a list of reasons why you want to go to therapy, telling a complete stranger and receiving their input on everything that isn’t going right in your life can be extremely hard and painful. I cried during my intake, and that’s okay. I have a lot on my plate. Everyone has different reasons for seeking help—I had mine, you’ll have yours.
The therapist you speak to during your intake may not be the therapist you see for your future therapy sessions, so you may need to tell your story all over again. Until you find the right therapist for yourself, you may have to tell your story many times. Be mindful—this is going to be a difficult process, but if you are open to bettering yourself, every therapy session you go through will make it worth it. I promise you that.
During the first therapy appointment, I was terrified. After walking into my therapist’s office and sitting on the couch, the reality set in that what I have been longing for was finally going to happen. But was I ready? I don’t think anyone can ever be prepared to talk about their life, both the good and bad, but if you’re doing this for yourself and for your well-being, you can’t go wrong.
Where did I begin? I’m pretty sure I rambled as soon as I opened my mouth, but I had specific topics I wanted to tackle and so I started that way. I listed everything and began with what I believed was most important. I released a lot of pain, guilt, and other pent up emotions in my first session and more in every one of my sessions after that. I cried during my sessions, but I also smiled because my life was being changed.
I know it’s scary to talk about experiences that have caused you pain, sadness, and hurt. I know it’s difficult to go through those emotions again when retelling what happened in therapy. It’s as if you’re reliving it all over again. I cannot stress enough the importance of facing these experiences and feelings, because you’re finally letting all of that go, allowing yourself to process them, and allowing yourself to move on. You’ll carry your experiences differently. You’ll carry yourself differently.
Every session was one hour long, and sometimes an hour didn’t seem enough, but I will say that after every session I viewed my past, present, and future in a new perspective. The beautiful thing about therapy is that it gives you a new view on your life and gives you hope that not everything is lost. If you’re scared that your therapist is going to judge you, laugh at you, or make you feel bad, that is not the case. Your therapist is meant to help you, to guide you, and I can tell you first hand that my therapist has done that for me.
I went to therapy once a week, and as things got better, I went once every two weeks. You determine how often you would like to go to therapy, and because I had a lot on my shoulders when I began, going on a weekly basis was the best option. I thanked my therapist after every session and continue to do so today. I could not be the person today without the help of my therapist.
Therapy is a never ending journey—there is no destination. Therapy is a continuous adventure where every session is as unexpected as the next. You’ll cry, smile, and laugh, and you’re reminded that even after everything, you’re going to be okay.
Don’t be afraid to seek out professional help. I know when some people learn someone is going to therapy, their immediate thought is “What’s wrong with them?” and the answer is absolutely nothing. There’s nothing wrong with you. Life can be a lot, and there’s nothing wrong with asking for some extra help. It’ll be the best thing you can do for yourself.