When I first started therapy I was so intimidated. The white coat syndrome struggle was real. I was on stand-by in the waiting room, nervously picking at my fingernails, while nature sounds and lavender oils drifted around me. I appreciated the effort to take the edge off. I started to relax when a bird’s squawk interrupted my concentration. Well played, nature tape. Tick Tock, Tick Tock. I spaced out and wondered if therapists have therapists. Finally she came around the corner and greeted me along with her intern. We sat down in the office and started my first session.
You should consider your introductory session as a trial. It’s so important to feel 100% comfortable with the person you’re about to lay everything out on the table for. After we went over our expectations and reservations, she told me my schedule has conflicts with her schedule, but her intern’s schedule is flexible. Hm. This concerned me a little bit. Should I really put my fragile state of mind into the hands of a student?
For me, (and probably you, too) the answer is Yes, and I’ll tell you why.
Finding the right therapist for you is a lot like dating. There’s no app to swipe right on your ideal person (or is there?) so you just make an appointment, show up, and hope for the best.
You will know right away if you don’t vibe. Trust your gut. This person is going to influence your mental health and get all up close and personal with your deepest and darkest secrets. I quickly learned chemistry was more important than credentials.
Our first couple of sessions were difficult. I had to pull things out of my brain archives to explore and identify my triggers. This was uncomfortable and draining for me. After an exaggerated emotional outburst one night, I hopelessly emailed him like the damsel in distress that I was…
Subject: THIS ISN’T WORKING I’M BROKEN.
Message: Hi. I don’t need therapy. I need to be sedated. I’m a menace to society and I cannot carry on.
Disoriented and Drowning,
Subject: Re: THIS ISN’T WORKING I’M BROKEN
Message: Hi Kaytee. It definitely sounds like a very difficult weekend, and maybe the support of a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner may help in those times. I have some numbers here for you. I will keep my Wednesday open in case you change your mind.
*3 days later*
Message: *Tucks tail between legs* Meep. Is your Wednesday still open?
It’s taxing to feel vulnerable. We are programmed to dodge our feelings in an effort to save face. Why? We’re not machines. Holding our feelings hostage forces us to stew on our issues, instigate more problems, and turns us into toxic people. Seeking help does not make you weak. It’s brave and it’s extremely hard work. We’re all little Veruca Salt in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, walking around all big, bad, and impatient, screaming that we want our golden tickets and we want them now! Well, self-improvement is not instantly gratifying. In fact, you should be working towards it the rest of your life. Imagine if we we were all taught how to identify and diffuse our triggered emotions at an early age. Just imagine it. How would it statistically change things like the heroin epidemic, suicides, and school shootings?
If you’re ready to be the best version of yourself, but money or time is holding you back, consider an intern. Their prices are significantly less expensive (sometimes even free of charge), they aren’t burned out from years of experience, they’re caught up on the newest and most effective methods of therapy, and they’re monitored by licensed therapists! Life hack! You’re basically getting a 2 for 1. Most of my sessions were over an app similar to facetime, which was AMAZING. The convenience was a huge relief and I felt way more comfortable in my own space, which allowed me to fully open up and let my walls down. Serious game changer.
Invest in yourself. I promise it’s never too late and things are never too far gone to change for you. Every single day is an opportunity to be better. Your future self will thank you.