Just short of turning 40 I began to noticed that with each passing day I was becoming more and more depressed. This took me by surprise because I had always been a pretty positive, upbeat person. After a while I also began having frequent nightmares and it wasn’t long following that I had an emotional breakdown. My traumatic childhood that I had believed was far behind me had caught back up and the pain inflicted on me became unbearable. I was counseled by a confidant to seek out a therapist. At first I resisted. Therapy made everything sound so much more serious and I had an experience with a therapist years earlier that left a bad impression on me. But eventually I realized that I indeed needed someone to talk to. The day I made my first appointment I hung up the phone and started crying. I felt so relieved that I was finally going to have someone to talk to. I had searched carefully and was able to find a female therapist that specialized in childhood trauma and abuse.
Seeking out a good therapist can feel intimidating and overwhelming. It takes a certain amount of courage to admit that we cant do somethings all on our own. But it is a very personal, and individual choice that no one else can make for you. When considering whether or no therapy is the right path for you, the following questions can help you see if and then where there are unresolved issues in your life that may be impeding your ability to experience personal fulfillment. Any positive answers may indicate that a good therapist is exactly what you need to help you move forward and work through your wounds so you can move on to a happier, healthier life.
- Am I lonely?
- Do I Wish I Had Someone to Talk to that Would Understand?
- Do I Think About Dying as a Way Out?
- Does My Life Feel Out of Control?
- Am I losing Interest in Everyday life?
- Do I Have a Lot of Pent Up Anger?
- Do I allow Others to walk all over me?
- Have I Ever Been Abused or traumatized and never had therapy?
- Was my childhood dysfunctional?
- Am I overly sensitive?
- Do I suffer from anxiety?
- Do I have phobias that impact my choices in life?
- Am I extremely sexually inhibited?
- Am I extremely sexually promiscuous?
- Are my relationships strained?
- Do I consistently end up in unhealthy relationships?
- Do I just feel like something is not right?
- Am I an emotional eater?
- Do I drink alcohol regularly distress?
- Do I feel really insecure?
- Do I wish I had a different life?
There are other questions and indicators that could be added to this list but this should get you thinking a little more clearly about the nature of your emotional needs.
Many times people put off getting the proper help because they don’t think they need it, or they are scared or they just are not in the habit of recognizing and caring for their own real needs. Having a therapist on your team is not the same as “seeing a psychiatrist.” Psychiatrist are like doctors that label your symptoms and hand you a prescription. A therapist on the other hand, cannot even prescribe medication. A therapist will work with you to overcome cognitive distortions that have resulted from past wounds. Usually you talk while the therapist listens and guides you with questions and insights to better under yourself and to emotionally empower you so you can move past unhealthy areas in your life that you feel stuck in.
There were three things I did to make my therapy a success:
- I wrote a list down of what I would want in a therapist such as: I wanted a female therapist. I wanted someone who specialized in childhood abuse and was not just a broad spectrum therapist, I wanted someone that worked fairly close to me so I would not have to travel far, etc…
- I made a commitment to myself to go a minimum of once a week. It takes time to build a trusting relationship, especially with sensitive issues. Consistency is key to progress. If you go one week and skip a week or two before going back, you will not get the full benefit and probably end up quitting.
- I was proactive in my own healing journey. I realized that a therapist is not a healer, but rather a facilitator for healing. I took responsibility for my healing, for doing the work that needed to be done- taking the counsel given, finding other resources for help and support and learning, going to therapy with a motive- knowing what I needed to talk about as much as possible, etc..
Seeing a therapist is a very self-loving investment in YOU. It is saying to yourself, “I matter.” It is carving out space in your life just for you. But in the end, only you can decide if a therapist is right for you. For me, it was life altering. I went consistently for over seven years and I do not regret a day of it. It worked only to benefit me and help me become a more confident and powerful version of myself.