While it is a great step to improving your situation, starting psychological therapy can be very frightening. There are many unknowns and new situations. These can be hard to deal with if you are already feeling worse than average. This is why we asked around to see what people would have liked to know before they began. We can always add to this so what do you think is important to know before you get started on therapy sessions?
You should not have to feel ashamed to be getting psychological therapy.
Yes, there’s a stigma. All of us are frightened that we’ll come across people who do not understand or do not try to understand. When someone’s broken their leg, you do not tell them to keep walking around on it. You tell them to get a cast, maybe take medication to get by while receiving treatment and letting the wounds heal. “Mental health professionals should never let you feel ashamed, in fact, the professionals I’ve met always reassured me.” – Gemma (one of our readers).
You might be worse off for a while first, before you start to improve.
We’ve heard this from several people. The first time you actively start to work on your problems, it can feel like tearing open a vat full of rotten garbage. It’s tough, it’s so incredibly tough, but that will pass, and now there are people to support you with their expertise.
You do not have to do psychological therapy on your own.
It’s hard enough to admit you have a problem and to need professional help. We read that a lot of people struggled with the fact that they wanted to be able to do it themselves. To get better with as little help as possible. It’s great that you’ve asked for professional help, and yes, it can sometimes feel very new and uncomfortable. You do not have to do this by yourself.
When it doesn’t ‘click’ you can ask for another therapist.
You’re there to receive help and support. Sometimes it just doesn’t click as well with a therapist as it would with another. It’s never easy in the beginning, but if after a month or 2, maybe 3, you still feel uncomfortable and think you would feel better with another person. You might actually want to listen to your gut feeling. Yes, it can feel horrible to ask for, and you do not want to insult them. However, they’ve been professionally trained. If they’re a good therapist they will understand that if it does not feel right, you’re better off talking to someone you feel more comfortable with. You’re there to get better, not to please someone else. It might feel ‘selfish’ but it isn’t (at least not in a bad way).
Do take into account that it doesn’t always work this way in every country, or on every health plan, but it’s worth asking if you’re not getting the help you need and deserve.
You are not weak for wanting/asking for/needing psychological therapy.
In fact, openly admitting professional help is what you need it a very courageous thing to do. It’s a thing many people struggle with. I’ve known people who spent their first few sessions just getting used to the idea that they’re getting professional help. They needed to learn that it’s okay to get it, and that they should not beat themselves up over it.
You are not the only one.
Mental health struggles can feel extremely lonely, but there are more people out there. “My healing process is nowhere near done, but I’ve already met so many kind people.” – Ellis “I opened up to my study advisor a few months ago, and when I came to speak to her again this week to update her on my progress she said she couldn’t exactly remember which student I was because she’s met several people that week who also struggle with [my illness]. To me that was strangely comforting. Mostly because it meant that there are more people like me here, even though I do not know exactly who they are.” – Cathy
So these are six thing we wish people knew before going into psychological therapy. Which other ones do you know?