Read through my experiences with therapy over the last few years. I’ll answer questions about starting and what it is like to go to therapy. Also learn some truths about therapy you might not have known.
I’ve shared bits and pieces of my mental health journey here and on Instagram but I haven’t discussed therapy before. So here it is. I go to therapy. And I ain’t afraid to say. In fact I love this part of my journey.
And I feel at a place to talk about therapy generally and perhaps answer some questions you may have if you are considering going to therapy. Therapy is bomb!
I have seen four therapists in total over three years and mostly attended as a couple. While I feel like I learned a lot of tools that I’d love to share in another post, I know that my experience is limited to me. Not everyone loves therapy as much as I do. And not everyone will have perfect experiences, I didn’t. If you feel comfortable, feel free to share your experiences and questions in the comments.
My Therapy Journey
My husband and I started therapy for our relationship almost six years ago. This was the first time either of us had done therapy. And while going, we learned some valuable lessons and set good habits for our relationship. It wasn’t perfect and I look back and see some things that were not helpful. But we did make progress.
After a year and a half of going almost weekly our therapist moved away. So we went on the hunt for a new therapist. We met a new one and both my husband and I did not feel like it was a good fit. The personality and style wasn’t for us. But we tried to go for a few months regardless. But after that time and a few negative interactions we stopped going completely.
For years we used the tools we learned with our first therapist. But after a few years I noticed unhealthy habits forming in our marriage again. So we started therapy again at the beginning of January 2019 at the BYU Comprehensive Clinic. This is a clinic with graduate students acting as therapists in trained and guided by a licensed therapist. I wasn’t sure how this would go, but looking back this therapist was a good match and good listener we made great progress.
Now, the downside of having a student therapist is eventually they graduate, which ours just did this summer. So after visiting with her for 1 1/2 years we had to consider if we should continue doing therapy. It actually has been a good time to access our progress. In the end, my husband felt like we were at a good place to take break, but as I have been struggling with postpartum anxiety I have chosen to continue.
So yesterday, I started with a new student therapist just to work on me with goals to continue to work on my anxiety and overall mental health. I look forward to learning new tools and strengthening my old tools as well.
Why is therapy important to me?
Most of us are born with imperfections to different extents, whether it be depression, anxiety, OCD, addiction, or a number of other challenges. And then we are raised in complex families that bring new challenges like trauma, codependence, abuse, you name it. And we grow up and try to function as an adult with issues we may or may not have the tools to cope with.
For those interested in therapy, I wanted to share a sliver of my journey for anyone who has ever had questions or needed encouragement. I’ve chosen to keep the larger parts of my therapy personal. But I am all for normalizing therapy and sharing what I have with you today so here are some common questions I have received.
What can I expect when I go to therapy?
Most therapy sessions are in a calm atmosphere. Before Covid you would go to a office and room. It is best to arrive a few minutes early, especially as your paying for the time. When you first start with a therapist they may send you some legal documents mostly for confidentiality. The therapist may also send you a questionnaire to get to know you better.
When you begin therapy the first handful of sessions will be called an “intake” where the therapist will try to get to know you better. Remember that you are years into a journey and they are just hopping on the train. Most therapists will also prompt you with questions about your reasons for coming as to best set goals as you work through therapy.
Once you have got through the initial intake, the therapist will usually ask what you would like to talk about during the sessions. If you don’t have anything, which for me is rare, they might prompt you on what to work through to work towards your goals that you have discussed.
Also it was asked on my Instagram if I should expect the therapist to push their clients into their views of the world and principals. From my experience , you should not expect this at all. This to me is highly unprofessional and would be a red flag to find a new therapist. In the four therapists I’ve seen none of them have shared their perspectives of the world and have guided me as I’ve worked through mine.
How much does therapy cost?
That really depends on a few factors. Your health insurance may cover part or all of the cost. Your or your partners employment may even have therapists available. If you are a student you may have services available. In my experiences we have paid as much as $120 a session, which really adds up speaking from experience.
The BYU comprehensive clinic I go to now is amazing and is only $15 a session! You don’t have to be a student or have a referral. And I know there are other programs like this other than Utah. But if you live in Utah county I highly recommend it!
Is it weird to be so personal with a stranger in therapy?
Yes, and no. This is probably going to depend on you and your personality and the match up of the therapist. Obviously, I am an open book. So while it is sometimes weird and humbling, it often is a release to unload my baggage without anxiety or worry. For me I focus on the fact that this is someone trained and paid to help my mental health, much like a doctor does for our physical health.
It really helps to find a therapist you are comfortable with. I specifically have asked for my new therapist to be female. I just connect better with females. But I have also gone to male therapists with my husband and found some success.
What if I don’t like my therapist?
My first piece of advice is to recognize that therapists are human too. While they will be professional, they may not handle every single interaction as you like. Be patient as you get to know your new therapist. But if in the case, it isn’t a good fit, don’t be afraid to try multiple therapists. You are not high maintenance or asking too much. Find someone who you can be comfortable with.
How can I find a therapist?
As mentioned above, your insurance may cover your therapy costs. If so, you can look through an insurance provider lists. If you are not going through your insurance you can google “therapists near me”.
Some last therapy thoughts
As you go, expect lots of emotions. Going to therapy is hard. It isn’t just an hour a week, but putting new behavioral patterns into practice as often as possible. And it’s also just a piece of your mental health journey.
While therapy can be hard work, overall it has been very rewarding for me. I find that in situations of conflict of frustration I have greater confidence in dealing with my issues. It isn’t perfect, nothing is, but I see progress in my marriage, relationships, and overall happiness. I have seen many wins in my family thanks to therapy. And I hope if you feel it could help you, that this post perhaps gives you some guidance in starting.
If you have any questions or want to share any thoughts or experiences feel free to comment below. This is only my experience and I know there is lots of wisdom out there. And let me know if you would like to read about my therapy tools and tips I’ve learned along the way.
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