What is Therapy Like?
The therapy process can be difficult, painstaking, surprising, funny, a huge relief, and scary, among other things. Like slow, for example. The only solace I know where slow is concerned is that slow sticks. What you learn, forge, build, take away, do differently stays with you and helps each subsequent change you make happen a little faster and come a little easier; that’s the nature of neuroplasticity. What you talk about in therapy is your agenda. You let the therapist know the changes you’d like to make and you work together to make them. If you’re worried about getting going in sessions you can let your therapist know that it’s helpful if they ask prompting questions aimed at better getting to know you.
How Does Therapy Work?
Building a strong relationship can change how we think, feel and behave. This fact has been empirically validated in long-term studies of children and their caregivers, and new findings in neuroscience support what researchers have been observing for decades. We begin life in relationship, and developing new kinds of relationships, like one with a therapist, can change us by changing how we respond to others, and by learning about how we expect others to respond to us. Therapy can also help us explore the relationships we were born into to help us find out how they helped us get so far. It can also explore some of how different nurturing could have prevented some struggles, augmenting our development in the present to help us become more confident, clear about our values, better equipped to navigate relationships, and quell the nagging of a harsh inner critic.
Does My Therapist Care About Me?
The therapy relationship is two people coming together to “make sense” of a person’s life (Buirski). The relationship is as real as any other, with boundaries like any other, but takes place under strange circumstances–timed and scheduled meetings in the same place where one person is the majority focus, the involvement of insurance companies and money. Still, the connection affects each person; the client doesn’t exist for the therapist only for the hour they’re together. The laughter when present isn’t contrived. Take time to find the right therapist. A therapist worth seeing should be able to answer questions you have about how they practice and be willing to take feedback to cater their approach, without sacrificing authenticity, to best serve you.
How Do I Find a Good Therapist?
Finding the right therapist can be one of the more difficult parts of the therapy process, perhaps, in part, because you’re doing it alone. Unlike the sharing, reflecting and the trying-the-same-things-in-a-new-way part of therapy, which happens within a partnership based on earned trust, mutual respect and likability. Here are some steps/things to consider when searching:
- Ask people who you know who have had good experiences with therapists for referrals or advice.
- Use popular websites like Therapy Tribe or Psychology Today to search for providers, or any other database you find/like. Do you connect with what the therapist wrote?
- Do some research on different types of therapy and use those in your search criteria.
- Don’t rule people out based on photos or age.
- How responsive is the therapist when you contact them? How long does it take to get a first appointment?
- Does the therapist offer a free consultation? No one wants to talk on the phone anymore, but I’ve had an over 90% retention rate with new clients I believe because I spoke with them before we met in person. An initial phone consultation also makes the first day easier because you already have a feel of the person, maybe have asked some questions, or heard a little of the therapist’s style/personality. If you do call, pay attention: how does it feel talking to the therapist?
- If you find someone you like right away you’re either really good at this or you got lucky. If you don’t find someone immediately, be persistent. It will pay off.