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Forums / Treatments, health professionals and therapies / Going to therapy for the first time (tips)

Topic: Going to therapy for the first time (tips)

5 posts, 0 answered
  1. romantic_thi3f
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    romantic_thi3f avatar
    2688 posts
    19 July 2018

    Hi everyone

    There’s a lot of people in these forums that have thought about going to therapy for the first time, so I thought I’d make a post about it.

    I get that it’s scary. It’s daunting. You’re basically coming in and saying hello to a person you’ve never met ready to open up for the first time.

    I’m no stranger to therapy, but these are things I’d wish that I’d known -

    - It’s totally okay to be scared and to not know what to say or do. Therapists are used to that.

    - Therapy is your time. This seems kinda obvious but it’s not - it’s okay to speak up, to ask questions, to challenge your therapist, to question why he/she said this not that, or where you’re heading and what you’re focusing on.

    - Whatever you are feeling is totally normal. I’ve walked in and out of therapy feeling anything from scared, sad, excited, angry, frustrated, confident - it’s annoyingly cliche but it is part of the process.

    - If you’re not ready to talk about things, you don’t have to. You might decide to go to therapy to talk about trauma, but if you’re not ready - then you’re not ready. It took me a long time to tell my therapist about some of the personal things that had happened. I wanted to build up a lot of trust first.

    - There are lots of different therapists. No two are ever the same. Likewise, there are lots of different therapy approaches; psychotherapy, CBT, DBT, ACT - the list is endless. It’s not all sitting on a couch talking endlessly about your feelings. Sometimes it’s practical with homework and real world tasks.

    - You’re allowed to switch if your therapist doesn’t feel right for you. Sometimes it really is about who you click with and feel most comfortable with.

    - You don’t have to have a diagnosis or feel like you’re crazy to go to therapy. One of my older therapists said she wished everyone went to therapy because you learn so much about yourself. I totally agree with that. They are there for you; whether you feel like you’re in a puddle or you’re drowning.

    Soo what do you think? Is there anything else you wish you’d known before seeing a therapist? Is there anything that helped you take that first step?

    Please feel free to share!

    3 people found this helpful
  2. GoodWitch
    GoodWitch avatar
    187 posts
    19 July 2018 in reply to romantic_thi3f

    Hi romantic,

    I've been in therapy a few years now, on and off, and for 2 years in marriage counselling with a different therapist than my individual one. Your list is great, I wish I'd known that it didn't matter if you didn't know what to say because my first time I was so nervous that the counsellor would think I was an idiot for not knowing how to start that I stressed myself out. But it was easier once the first words were out.

    The only thing I'd add to your point about not needing a diagnosis or to feel crazy to go to therapy is that you don't even have to have a 'big' problem either. For a long time I told myself I'd look like a dill going to therapy because I didn't have a huge dramatic trauma to talk about, almost like I thought the therapist would be judging my story when compared to others and thinking I was a wimp for not being able to handle such minor stuff myself. Turns out when I actually sat down and talked about stuff that had happened to me over the years there were a lot of really significant traumatic events that just didn't seem like a big deal at the time because i 'handled it' (read: I didn't actually handle it at all i just moved on and pretended it wasn't a big deal but it was!).

    I would always encourage people to go see a professional counsellor because what is there to lose? Nothing but a bit of time and there is so much to gain. I feel better just having someone say to me 'that was a traumatic event' or whatever because for years I told myself it wasn't and to stop being a baby, which was really damaging. Now I've stopped that and my depression isn't as oppressive as it was and I feel myself becoming stronger.

    GW

    1 person found this helpful
  3. startingnew
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    startingnew avatar
    5783 posts
    19 July 2018 in reply to romantic_thi3f
    This is a great thread, thank you for starting it!
    1 person found this helpful
  4. romantic_thi3f
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
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    romantic_thi3f avatar
    2688 posts
    25 July 2018 in reply to GoodWitch

    Hi,

    GoodWitch -

    Thank you for your post! I hope that you have a good counsellor now and I totally agree - I would have loved to have known these things earlier!

    Yes that’s very true! Almost like there’s a ‘crazy’ spectrum we have to sit on in order to deserve therapy? It makes no sense yet it’s such a common belief to have. It sounds like your therapist has helped you to dig up some heavy stuff - I can relate to that; it sounds like seeing (and validating!) all of the trauma has been super helpful. Thank you for sharing!

    startingnew -

    Thank you and you’re welcome! It’s something that I wish I knew earlier so hopefully this post won’t fall down the rabbit hole of forums!

  5. alma17
    alma17 avatar
    14 posts
    5 August 2018
    It's really important to find a therapist who can understand your situation, or at the very least will genuinely try to. If they get defensive about being challenged, or questioned, or they judge your legitimate viewpoints, I would say, find a better one who is more receptive and open. I wish I had known such things when I went to therapy, and I really wish, I had prepared and asked more questions about the therapist. Therapy is for you, it's their job to give you an adequate service for your needs. You shouldn't have to feel guilty for wanting to leave if you need to. From personal experience, there are a lot of really mediocre ones, so please find the right one for you.
    2 people found this helpful

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