With the increased awareness of mental health issues in our country and the work being done to help break the stigma around mental illness, more people are talking about their experiences in therapy and are more willing to seek it out.
Given that it hasn’t always been an open subject, many are still confused about where to start and what to expect. We’ve compiled a basic overview of what therapy entails to help make the process a little less daunting. Remember, getting help is perfectly normal and hopefully these tips will help!
There are different types of practitioners
The main types of practitioners are psychologists (PsyD), psychiatrists (M.D.), and social workers (LCSW). Each is important and beneficial, and it’s up to you to decide which one works best. Some are covered by insurance and some may not be, so if you are insured, make sure to check with your insurance company to figure out what you best option would be.
Finding the right one is important
There are many different types of therapy, each with a different methodology to achieve results. Do some research on different types and choose the one that you feel will be the best for accomplishing whatever goals you may have.
Take the time to find someone you feel comfortable with or you’ll likely be disappointed with your results. You may not mesh well with the first therapist you meet, so don’t be afraid to try a different therapist until you find one that feels right. You should feel like your therapist’s office is a safe space, so if it doesn’t, you may need to keep searching.
It doesn’t have to be for a crisis
Although many people initially seek out therapy to help with a specific problem, therapy can be as innocuous as talking about things that stress you out on a regular basis. Therapists are equipped with a plethora of tools that you can easily implement in your life for more common issues or they can help you through some serious struggles.
You set the pace and timeline
One of the biggest roadblocks to starting therapy is the hesitation that you’ll have to go “forever.” While there are certainly people who need more help than others, if you reach a point where you feel like you no longer need help or aren’t getting anything out of your sessions anymore, communicate that with your therapist. Sometimes all you may have needed was a short period of time to work through something.
You’ll have to do work
Therapy is a two-way street. You can’t go in, dump your problems, and then expect a miraculous cure to solve them all. You’re going to have to complete “homework,” learn coping mechanisms, and potentially have difficult discussions with others. It’s going to get uncomfortable at times. Remember, if it was easy, you’d likely be able to do it by yourself.
It helps to have an objective party’s opinion. You may not always like it, but it helps you gain a different perspective, which allows you to be more open-minded about what is going on in your life.
Expect emotions in therapy
A lot of things can come up in therapy. This means a lot of emotions can come up as well. While that may scare some people away, keep in mind that there’s generally also relief, understanding, forgiveness, hope, and other positive emotions. That being said, it’s also a safe place to express those emotions and work through them with a trained practitioner.
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Erin is a NASM-certified personal trainer, and a writer dedicated to focusing on physical, emotional, and mental health. When she’s not writing, she’s trying out new desserts in Chicago and relaxing with her husband Neil and her dog Donut.