For many people the word “therapy” has a bad connotation. In fact, I bet if you polled a random sample of folks living in the United States about their thoughts on therapy, people’s reactions would be all over the place.
Depending on the culture you grew up in, the kind of parents you had, the school you went to etc, all these factors had and have a major influence on whether or not the word “therapy” is a taboo subject for you. But you are an adult, and the glorious thing about being one is YOU get decide what’s a good idea for you and what might help! Life is too precious to worry about what others think is a good idea for us. So in that spirit I totally get that it may not be your thing. So I promise, if after my little post, you still aren’t feeling it, no hard feelings. It’s been helpful to me, and that’s what I’ll speak to.
I’ve talked about this a bit in a previous post, but my first real experience in the caregiving world was in Ireland working at a homeless shelter. And while it was pivotal to my life trajectory, it was also incredibly hard and left me feeling more than a little lost. I had relied on my fellow volunteers to process life and everything I was experiencing while I was there. But when I returned home to the States, I didn’t feel like a “normal” 22 year-old. I had seen and experienced some scary and tragic things, and suddenly I didn’t know how to relate to my peers or know what to do with all I’d seen.
I remember on one day I was feeling particularly weird and my mom casually brought up the option of therapy. I jumped at it! I was desperate for some insight. Objective insight. That’s the key word friends. Objective. I was anxious to meet a professional person who was not connected to my life in any other way. People in your inner circle can’t HELP but offer insight, or relate your experience to their experiences. Sometimes this is helpful, but not always.
The first time I went to therapy I said to my therapist, “You have to promise me you aren’t going to take my problems home with you.” Bless my little narcissistic heart. I forgot I was dealing with a professional. It actually reminds me of this quote by the ever so wise Eleanor Roosevelt, “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” But I digress…
A couple things were game changers for me, and I became a therapy convert. First, my therapist was able to normalize for me what I was going through, and give a name to what I was experiencing, PTSD. Second, she could offer insight on how to work through things, and gave me real homework to actually get better. Third, she didn’t make the session about her, so I didn’t need to ask how she was doing, but could legitimately focus that 50 minutes on ME. When’s the last time you had someones undivided attention for 50 minutes? I mean, c’mon! And lastly, I started getting better.
Now selecting a therapist can be tricky, and this is where a lot of people get stuck. I suggest getting recommendations from others (if you feel comfortable), looking on-line for good reviews, going through your EAP (Employee Assistance Program- ask if your job offers this, your job pays for 3 therapy visits, and does not get told you are using their service, after your 3 sessions, they can make recommendations of other therapists covered by insurance), or you can just pick one covered by your insurance that is conveniently in your area. Some therapists will do a free session on the phone or in person to see if you both click. But do not give up! The right fit is out there.
Take care of YOU.