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Where to Begin with Therapy

Updated: 3 days ago


Take Away:

Our mental health significantly impacts our quality of life, so it makes sense that we would want to do all we can to improve it. Finding a therapist that you feel safe and comfortable with is very important for your healing journey. However, you may have questions about what to expect and how to get started. Keep reading for what to know before your first therapy session.

 

Table of Contents:

  1. How to tell if therapy is right for you

  2. How therapy can help you reach your goals

  3. First time therapy advice

  4. How do I start therapy: finding the right therapist

  5. Reasons to start therapy in 2023

 

How to Tell If Therapy is Right For You?

orange couch in front of a green wall
Going to a therapist for the first time

When it comes to your physical health, it's pretty easy to know whether or not you need to see a doctor, but when it comes to your mental health, things are not as black and white. Although it can feel frightening and overwhelming to take that first step and reach out to a therapist, learning to manage your emotions and behavior is an investment in yourself that can improve your quality of life in dramatic ways. Here are some ways you can tell if therapy is right for you:

  • Anxiety

It's common to feel anxious from time to time, but if you've noticed your anxiety levels have increased and are interfering with your ability to do normal activities like household chores, sleep, and work it may benefit you to talk to a therapist.

  • Trauma

Trauma and abuse can leave lasting scars that, if left untreated, can negatively impact every aspect of your life including your relationships and your ability to experience joy. Coming to terms with your experiences by speaking with an empathetic and professionally-trained therapist can help you to heal.

  • Marriage Problems

If you find yourself unable to communicate with your spouse and are wondering if divorce is the only answer, seeking couples counseling could help get the relationship back on track.

  • Obsessive Behaviors

Life can become unbearable when dealing with obsessive or compulsive disorders. If you find yourself consumed by compulsive thoughts and behaviors that are negatively impacting your relationships in life, seeking therapy can be an important first step to gaining control over your thoughts and behaviors.

  • Difficult Life Transitions

Difficulties such as the loss of a job, a divorce, or loss of a loved one can make life seem chaotic and unbearable. The emotions that go along with these challenging life transitions can be to much for many people to handle alone. Speaking with a therapist can be an effective way to work through your emotions and grief.

 

How Therapy Can Help You Reach Your Goals

If you struggle to set goals, let alone reach them, you are not alone. In fact, it is believed that as much as 92% of the population has found it hard to stick to goals at some point in life.

Lightbulb with the word goal inside of it
How to make the most out of therapy

This continuous cycle of trying to set beneficial goals, but never quite reaching them, can feel like defeat. When we don't reach goals, we feel powerless and even hopeless. Here are some tips on how to make the most out of therapy.


Just as you might follow a recipe to end up with something edible, there is a formula that must be followed to set reachable goals. This formula is often used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help individuals set and reach goals that will help them change behaviors and better their lives. The goal setting formula used by many CBT therapists is as follows:

  • Identify your goal.

  • Choose a starting point.

  • Identify the steps required to achieve the goal.

  • Take that first step and get started.

Therapy can help you with each one of these steps. From ensuring you select realistic goals, to helping you identify where you are in relation to your goal, breaking down the goal into smaller, actionable steps, and helping you take that very first one. Though the end goal of therapy is to create better habits and behaviors that lead to creating a happy and fulfilling life, the process of getting there will sometimes be uncomfortable. It is unrealistic to expect you will feel better immediately. Therapy takes time and commitment. Therapy is not magic, but it does provide you with tools for lasting change.

 

First Time Therapy Advice


white piece of paper with the word Advice with a hand holding a pen on the right side of the page
starting therapy

Are you looking for tips for starting therapy? Meeting with a therapist for the first time can feel frightening and overwhelming, but there are ways to make starting therapy less intimidating. One of those ways is to make sure you've chosen a therapist who will be a good fit for you. Before committing to a regular schedule with a therapist, there are 4 questions you should know the answers to. These questions can typically be answered in an initial consultation with your potential therapist.

  1. What type of therapy do you provide?

Most therapists specialize in a particular kind of therapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Gestalt, Psychodynamic, Family Systems, or Couples. Each of these schools of thoughts will inform how that therapist works and how they personally believe change and growth occurs. It's important to understand how your therapist will work with you each week.


2. Is Contact allowed in-between sessions?


If it's important to you to be able to call, email, or text your therapist with questions or concerns in-between sessions, ask what their policy is. Some therapists may only allow contact in case of emergency. Some therapists may read email messages or listen to voicemails but will not respond, while others will reply or call you back. Understanding your potential therapist's policy for contact between sessions is essential to ensure you are both a good fit for each other.


3. What happens if you have an emergency?


You will want to know how a therapist will help you handle an emergency. Some therapists will allow you to call them at home or at their office while others will use an answering service that will get a message to them. Still, others may ask you to call a crisis line or go to the nearest emergency room.


4. How much experience do you have treating people like me?


You wouldn't hire a hairdresser to fix your broken toilet, so why hire a therapist who doesn't have experience treating people with issues similar to yours. Therapists often specialize in specific areas and become experts on that particular treatment. Don't be afraid to ask this question to ensure you're getting the best therapist for your needs. Finding the right therapist for you may take some time, but the search will be worthwhile.

 

How Do I Start Therapy: Finding the Right Therapist

It's a new year and many of us have committed to making changes that will allow our best selves to shine through. When it comes to our mental and emotional health, most people know that they should seek support from a licensed therapist. However, finding the right one can seem overwhelming. Here are some tips on finding the right therapist:

  • Ask for personal recommendations

You may have a friend or family member who has or currently is working with a therapist they love.

  • Ask your doctor

If you have a good relationship with a doctor or anyone in the medical field they are a great resource to tap into about a mental health referral since they are connected to many people in the medical field.

  • Use your insurance company

If you happen to be one of those lucky individuals with an insurance company with a good customer service department, you might want to ask them to suggest a therapist in your network. Keep in mind not all therapists accept insurance. There are actually quite a few reasons why some therapists choose to not accept insurance from clients (low reimbursement rates, hassles, supply and demand). If you are on a budget, all is not lost. There are ways to work with a great therapist and not break the bank.

  • Do an internet search

If you have no one you can personally ask, then you will need to perform an internet search for therapists in your local area who specialize in an area that you are wanting help or support in.

 

Reasons to Start Therapy in 2023

If you're like most people, you brought in the new year with a list of resolutions, and if you're like most people, all of those resolu-

page of calendar that has new year fresh start written with a blue marker
Starting therapy

tions have one goal: to better your life in some way. Most people believe mental health therapy is something you seek when there is a major crisis, when we need help navigating depression or anxiety, when we're going through a big transition, or when our marriage is on the verge of collapse. Therapy can help with all of the above scenarios, but it also offers numerous benefits you may not have thought of:

  • Therapy can boost physical health

Different therapy protocols have been shown to improve different physical symptoms associated with stress. This can include a better appetite and improved sleep.

  • Therapy can build self-awareness

Therapy helps clients understand where feelings, beliefs, and behaviors really come from. Through treatment, individuals can become more self-aware and empowered to take responsibility for the lives they are creating.

  • Therapy can explore hidden desires

Of course, self-awareness also means becoming aware of your passions and desires. Many people spend a majority of their life doing what others want instead of what they want. Therapy can help you become an archeologist of sorts, digging into your heart, mind, and soul to uncover what it is you value, love, desire, need, and want.

  • Therapy helps you reach goals

It's the new year and we all have new goals that we are hoping to reach. Well therapy can help you reach those goals. A trained therapist can help you set achievable goals as well as help you outline the steps you'll need to take to get there. They can also then act as coach and cheerleader, supporting your efforts to reach your goals. Yes, therapy is something that you can turn to for depression, addiction, and help with your crumbling relationships, but therapy can help with so much more.


The beginning of the year offers all of us so much potential. Let this year be the year you deal with any issues you may be having so you can begin to live your best life.



If you're ready to explore starting therapy please reach out


If you are in Houston, New York, or California and you would like to explore treatment options for improving low self-esteem, managing anxiety, or talking back to your self-critical voice please contact me and schedule a free consultation today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help. Make 2023 the year you start therapy!




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