Therapy has proven useful to me at a few key points in my life that needed an extra assist to find my footing. I benefited greatly from putting aside ego and finding the help I needed. Please feel encouraged to do the same if you are doing some mental gymnastics on your own to deal with whatever is on your mind. There is a better way! Finding the right therapist can make a big difference in your experience, so I wanted to share with you a couple of times I researched and found the therapist I needed to move forward. What I found with each use case was that in therapy, one size does not fit all. It is always prudent to shop around.
First a quick background and a reminder…
A reminder: I am not a doctor. I am not offering medical advise. I am sharing my own experience of finding the right therapist for my personal mental health needs. For medical advise you must contact a doctor.
I have a minor in psychology purely because I’ve always been fascinated with people’s psyches. I did not take psych classes in college with the plan of going into the field rather I knew I would do well in them as electives because reading about this stuff really was no chore to me at all. Therefore, after 6 years of college, I graduated with a minor in 3 areas of study, english, history, and psychology. What’s the common denominator? Reading! All three of those studies revolve around reading and that is something I don’t mind doing at all.
Anywho, I wanted to start with pointing out that I have several years of studying psychology at the colligate level under my belt and I still had to be told by a doctor that I was dealing with clinical depression. Sometimes, despite ourselves, we are blind to reality and need profession help. I certainly was. I’m grateful that my primary care physician saw the writing on the wall, as I cried to him in his office telling him I just didn’t feel good but couldn’t figure out why, and sent me to see a psychologist. I was 22.
Finding out I was depressed was shocking to me. That sounds silly but it was. I always considered myself happy, lucky, healthy, loved, etc., so to hear that I was depressed sounded counterintuitive. BUT, it also felt correct. I knew that something was different about the way I’d been behaving and the thoughts I’d been wrestling. It wasn’t my normal moment of sadness or disappointment. It was a long and enduring sadness. I did not want to do anything, go anywhere, see anyone. I was eating constantly to soothe the sadness and that resulted in gaining 100 lbs in one year. That’s right. You can read that again. A hundred pounds in a year and I wasn’t skinny to begin with.
It was like a door was unlocked when my doctor said, “You are suffering from depression and there’s help available”. I could hardly wait to find a therapist and start my journey out of the darkness. I started by calling my insurance to see what it covered and where to look for a therapist. There were 100’s in my area and this is where the shopping begins.
The right therapist makes all the difference in your experience. It is important to take your time and research the psychologists in your area to find one who specializes in what you are dealing with but that is just one thing to consider. You definitely want to see a therapist who treats depression if you are dealing with depression but there will no doubt be several in your area to choose from so the hunt does not stop there. You also need to find someone you are comfortable with and if possible someone who comes recommended by a medical professional or a trusted friend.
I found out quickly that therapists are nuanced just like regular people. I know, crazy right?! What I mean is, therapy involves you talking extensively about personal and private experience. Sometimes you do exercises that unlock memories buried deep down that erupt very primal emotion. Sometimes you have to tell your deepest darkest secrets that solicit worry, fear, shame or guilt. It can be an amazing experience that brings you to a new level of personal inflection and understanding but it is also very revealing and exposes your truth to a total stranger, so doesn’t it make sense that you might feel more comfortable with one person than another just like you do when choosing a mate or friend? What’s my point? Trust and comfort with the person sitting in the chair across from you is critical to allowing these raw and necessary talks to happen.
I “interviewed” three therapist the first time I sought the help of a professional and each psychologist was completely different. It only took one session with each to determine if I would be back but I knew that if I didn’t feel a connection with the therapist, I would not be able to open up or be real with them in our talks. This process was hard. It was emotional. It was time consuming. It took patience, repeated emotional exposure, and endurance. But, boy was it worth it!
Once I found the right therapist, the road to healing was paved and the work could begin. Its not my place to tell you what to look for in your own personal search. Your criteria is likely very different from mine or the person to your left, but I am hoping to highlight that your do not have to settle when you look for mental wellness help. Try another therapist. Ask friends for referrals or read reviews online. Do not settle. This one tip will make a world of difference in your experience. You are worth the work, so do it!
As I mentioned, I’ve sought the help of a therapist a few times in my life. After my first time doing the research to find someone I felt connected with, I felt more confident in the process when I was tasked with doing it again even though I was looking for a different type of help. Depression led me to seeking help the first time and even my second time. However, my most recent time has been to examine my compulsive eating.
The process for finding a new type of therapist was similar but I wanted to bring this up to highlight the point that there are therapist who specialize in different disciplines. This time I started my research online because I was looking for something less general and more specialized. I wasn’t even sure what I was looking for existed so I wanted to start my journey privately and the internet offered an easy way to do that.
The internet helped me find a therapist who worked with people to remove the diet mindset and make peace with food. If you are looking for something very specialized like this, the internet is a great tool to aide you. I tried asking friends and doctors for referrals but due to the highly specialized nature of my topic, they didn’t provide any good leads. My point here is that you might have to do different types of research to find a specialized therapist than you would when looking for one who treats depression or anxiety. And it’s important not be discouraged or give up if one road seems like a dead end.
Again, I am not giving medical advice. That should come from your doctor. I’m only offering you insight into the first steps you might take to find the help you need. My pro tips are to test out several therapists until you find one that you click with and to use different research tools depending on the type of therapy you are looking for. These two things will help set you up for greater success in your therapy.
Nowadays virtual therapist visits can open up even more doors to find even the most specific of mental wellness therapies so don’t let lack of options stand in your way. The world is available online and you deserve the help.
Best of luck and please take the time you need to take care of yourself!