05 Aug I am a therapist and I go to therapy
What it was like for me
My first experience with therapy was when I was 19 (see image below of fresh faced, thin eyebrowed person) and struggling to understand and accept my sexuality. I met with a therapist and my first experience wasn’t great.
She was very warm but she reminded me so much of my Mum that I couldn’t be really open as I was terrified of offending or upsetting her. I found a new therapist (because sometimes this is what you need to do, and that is okay, it’s encouraged) and I worked with her beautifully and gently for the next 12 months in which time I discovered lots about myself and gained new strategies and insights that helped me to feel love and compassion towards myself.
Over the next 20 + years I worked with therapists during periods of postnatal depression and also worked with 2 different couples’ therapists, over 2 different relationships.
I am sharing this because….
So, why would I share this? Particularly given that I hold clear boundaries about what I share and what I don’t share given my role as a therapist. Well, the answer is, because sometimes we must share a little of ourselves if that is what is needed and I think it is needed.
It is so important to demystify therapy, to normalize the process and let you all know that no one is immune to mental health and relationship struggles.
There can be stigma attached to seeking help when we are experiencing emotional, psychological, or interpersonal challenges. We are all human and we are all susceptible to the human condition, we all get sick, we all feel pain and fear and happiness and joy and love and inclusion and exclusion.
I am watching a great doco at the moment called Lenox Hill on Netflix https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenox_Hill_(TV_series) which follows the staff at Lenox Hill hospital in New York and one of the Dr’s has just been diagnosed with cancer. I was full of emotion watching his experience and I was so grateful to him for allowing this to be filmed and viewed. How he has been vulnerable and shared his experience.
We learn empathy by having experiences that in turn allow us to feel connection to others experiencing similar emotions. So for me, and many other therapists I know, having lived experience of life’s challenges has helped to build our empathy.
I also felt that my personal therapeutic experiences have assisted in forming a sense of what it feels like to seek help, the fear and uncertainty when you open up to what is essentially a stranger, the hope and relief when you find the right therapist. The frustration or sadness if the therapist is not the right one for you.
I remember letting my first therapist know that I wanted to find someone else, at 19, and I felt nervous about the conversation. She let me know it was okay and helped me find someone else and I was always so grateful to her for that.
Finding the right one
I have conversations with all my new clients at our first session about the importance of them having choice and understanding that there may be a myriad of reasons why you are or are not the right therapist for them. I encourage them to consider these factors and to listen to their gut.
When you do find the right therapist, and there are so many wonderful therapists out there and so many reasons why the therapist could be right (or not) for you, the work can be life changing and so healing. It requires lots of ingredients including commitment, connection, honesty, reflection and work, but it is worth it.
The take away
· no one is immune to mental, emotional, or interpersonal challenges
· seeking therapy is a healthy step
· sharing your story helps demystify therapy for others
· that it is okay, hell, its encouraged, to find your right fit when looking for a therapist
My aim with this blog post is to make sure that no one feels that seeking therapy, asking for help or admitting that there is a problem is something reserved for any particular type of person. Nor is it a sign of anything other than that you have a pulse and are a human being living a life within which we all experience challenges.
If you want to Connect
If you feel that speaking with a therapist may help with any of the challenges you are facing, reach out to Tracy and the team at Nest and we can help you find the right one for you.