Many people procrastinate getting the help that they need. They will want to see a therapist and will think about it for years and finally end up doing it. That may just mean that they weren't ready until they actually made their first appointment. It is normal to feel apprehensive about starting therapy. Many people feel this way in the beginning and tend to have cold feet about getting started.
I like to describe therapy similarly to going to the gym or sweating. You are basically releasing toxins and endorphins from your body by sweating and with talking, you may experience the same cathartic feeling/release. Many people have expressed feeling much lighter after their first therapy session. When we talk, we are releasing a lot of feelings and emotions that we've held onto internally for years. It can be a tremendous relief to be able to let go of these feelings through talking.
It can also feel good to talk out-loud and hear yourself speak. When you do that, you are processing things differently than you would by thinking about something in your own mind. You may also not feel as isolated as you would in thinking about things on your own.
During the first session, the therapist may go over what is to be expected from the session, your rights and limitations towards confidentiality, the duration of the session, important policy information, and may have you sign some documents such as a questionnaire and/or agreement document.
Finding a therapist can be a rigorous and daunting task but... FEAR NO MORE!---These tips are designed to help you feel more comfortable in making the right decision and save you from needing to do hours of research.
1.) Word of Mouth
If you are feeling comfortable enough, ask around to those closest to you in regards to how they found their therapist or if they would recommend them to you. You can also ask a healthcare provider such as a doctor who you know and trust to share with you if they have any referrals.
It is a great site to find a therapist within your area and specifies according to the type of insurance, gender of therapist, therapy techniques practiced, and insurances accepted. It is a fairly organized site and is useful for your own private viewing if you don't wish to ask anyone about how to go about finding one.
You want to search according to specialities such as why you are seeking therapy to begin with. Usually searching that way will lead you to find someone who specializes in the area you wish to find help in. Some specialties include: Addiction, Eating Disorders, Couples Therapy, Anxiety disorders, Depression, Trauma, Bereavement counseling, Relationships, Grief therapy, and Marriage and Family Therapy.
4.) Narrow down most important aspects that you are looking for in a therapist
Some of these could include years of experience, gender of therapist, location of therapist, age of therapist, specialties, insurances accepted, techniques or modalities such as how the therapist conducts her therapy sessions(Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, Psychodynamic therapist, Dialectical Behavioral Therapist, etc) .
5.) Things to look for while having your first session with your new therapist
A.) They are non-judgmental:
The Therapist should never make you feel judged or they aren't doing their job well. You want to feel comfortable enough to share your personal thoughts and feelings in a safe place. It is very difficult to do that when you feel judged and therefore, that is a sign that it is not the right fit.
B.) You feel heard during the session:
Your therapy session is your space to be heard. You are paying for the session and feeling heard is very important in order to establish a healthy relationship with your therapist.
C.) The temperament of the therapist:
It will make it easier to share more with your therapist if he or she shows signs of empathy, compassion, kindness, and acceptance.
These days, people want to gain something out of therapy. If you are that type of person then look for some form of direction towards the end of the session. If the therapist discusses goals, next steps, or summarizes what was discussed then this will be more of an active and transformative approach to therapy which most people have found to be most useful.
How to recover from feeling negative emotions such as stress, boredom, frustration, anxiety, sadness, & anger.
"Tight itchy sweater"
Ever experience walking into a super hot room carrying multiple bags and having the extreme urge to relieve yourself from the discomfort to take off that sweater? Sometimes that experience can exist in different ways or through moments when we experience negative emotions. The only difference is that there is no sweater that can be removed to experience relief. The relief in this experience does not depend on removing the sweater but rather creating a change in your physical being or behavior. It may be hard to do anything other than sit in the moment of feeling uncomfortable and paralyzed. However, recognize that you are in a moment of time that can be altered by a behavioral change. The moment you recognize you feel stuck in the moment try to change your activity for just 5 minutes and give yourself the option of continuing for another 5 minutes.
Some ways to remove that imaginary sweater can be to participate in activities such as exercising, breathing techniques, meditation, writing down things you're grateful for, listening to some music, and/or fantasizing that you are somewhere else--a pleasant memory. After you participate in one or more of those activities you will experience a temporary change in your perception or a feeling as though that tight itchy sweater no longer exists. I say temporary because all feelings are conditions of the mind (sadness, happiness, boredom, anger, etc) or temporary moments that exist throughout time at an ever changing rate.