Recently, I had a student ask me if I decided to get help on my own or if I was forced. I told her that in many ways it was both because It was highly encouraged for me to see a therapist. I did make the decision to get better on my own though. Here are some things I want you to know if you are struggling with the thought of going to therapy.
It’s Okay if you don’t feel ready to go to therapy
Some people may disagree with me, but I truly believe it’s ok. I have seen a therapist on and for seven years and I highly encourage it, especially if you are healing from a traumatic experience. Something that I wish someone told me though was that therapy is helpful when you want to recover. I have spent several appointments sitting silently and uncomfortably with a therapist. Honestly, they can try and tear it out of you, but for it to be truly beneficial, you must want to make progress in some form.
2. It takes time to find a therapist you are comfortable with.
Not every therapist is the same. We may even dislike the first few we meet. Don’t give up.
My social worker in high school once told me that finding a therapist is like finding your favorite ice cream flavor. Just because you may find some you don’t like, doesn’t mean you won’t find someone you love.
3. Therapy can be difficult.
Something important to acknowledge before going in is that the road to recovery is not easy. (You may be thinking, well duh D.J. Of course it’s gonna be difficult.) I know it may seem obvious, but I truly feel like most people go in slightly unprepared. Therapy takes an extra dose of vulnerability and bravery to address things that you struggle with.
There are days for me where I still feel too frightened to talk about my traumatic experience, and I feel the need to walk around the issue. There are days where I have a complete vulnerability overload and spend the rest of the day crying or sleeping. Therapy can sometimes feel like you are walking directly into the fire to attempt to put it out.
4.Therapy doesn’t fix everything.
Just to repeat what I said, therapy doesn’t fix everything. Therapy can play a healthy and significant role in recovery, but it will not magically change your life. Therapy can provide support and a safe outlet to talk about experiences. Therapy can also help you build several coping mechanisms to help conquer different kinds of struggles.
What therapy isn’t is a magic wand. One session will not cure you. Your trauma will not just disappear. It takes time and commitment to grow and become a healthier and happier version of yourself. Therapy can help lead you there, but you have to be the driving force.
5. If you are questioning whether you are strong enough, I promise that you are.
When I started seeing a therapist, I was twelve and in the last year of middle school. There were times at the beginning when I could barely speak because I shook so badly. I could only get out a few words through an entire session. For a few years, I always felt that I wasn’t strong enough to talk about all of the experiences I had endured throughout my life so far.
Here is the thing though, I got through it.
Therapy is a regular aspect of my life now and I am no longer afraid of meeting with my therapist when I need help addressing difficulties in my life and working through my past trauma.
My therapist plays a major role in my support system and has helped me find healthy coping mechanisms when times get hard.
Therapy can be healthy and beneficial. Remember that although it’s not easy, you have already shown so much bravery and strength up to this point and you can conquer whatever is coming your way.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
We all need love and support to be the best versions of ourselves.