Top Ten Tips when Starting Therapy
It can be a difficult and overwhelming process knowing where to start, what questions to ask, or what you are looking for when you are attempting to start therapy. There can be so many choices for therapists and how do you know that the one that you pick will be a good fit for you? I have added a few tips to consider when you are trying to get started with therapy. These tips can help in assessing your own motivation, but also assist in finding a therapist that is a positive fit for you.
1. Therapy is all about you and needs to be FOR you!
Sometimes we are pushed to seek help because of other people. Our significant other might have pushed us to get help or family relationships. When we are reaching out for help because of those other relationships, it can make it difficult to really have the motivation and drive that is required in putting in the hard work of therapy. There are many times when an individual is pushed to take the step because of deteriorating relationships, but is this something that you want for yourself? Therapy is a choice and its YOUR choice and if you are going to have to put forth the effort, finances, and time… make sure it is what YOU want.
2. Not all therapy or therapists are treated as equal.
There are many different ways that therapists approach the therapeutic relationship. There is no ‘right’ way to ‘do’ therapy. There are many different therapeutic models that therapists will integrate into their approach and in their work with you. The approach can be important, but the therapists themselves is very important as well. Therapists are human and have their own personalities, the way they interact with the world or with others, as well as their values that may show through in the therapeutic process. For example, you may find that one therapist might be too talkative or the other side where they might be too quiet for you. With that being said, look for someone who meets those qualities that you are looking for. If you start therapy, you can always adjust and search for another therapist as well and never need to feel stuck. The reality is that we are not all a good fit for one another and that is okay. It can be helpful to meet with a therapist for a consultation before moving into being a client with them. That can give you time to get a feel for them and the fit that they might be for you in therapy before committing to being their client.
3. Take time to learn about the therapist’s policies.
Once you start with someone, you will get some forms to review and fill out. Often, we quickly review and sign them without really taking in all of the information. However, it is extremely important to review these forms so that you know what the protocol is for reaching out between sessions, how to cancel your appointment, if there is a fee for canceling, how your information is used, etc… In the first session or two, it is important to find your voice to talk with your therapist about these forms if you have questions or concerns.
4. Recognize that not every therapy session will be the same.
When starting therapy, many believe that there will be these major breakthroughs or ‘eureka’ moments. There will be some sessions where it may feel that way, but other session may feel frustrating or even ordinary. Trust that therapy is a process and there is a bit of ebb and flow to the process. Take your time and manage your expectations throughout the process.
5. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and transparent.
When we are starting therapy, it can be a bit weird to open up because you don’t even know this other person. You might not be sure if you can trust them or if they will possibly judge you. However, in therapy we talk through events, thoughts, feelings, and reactions in their truest state. If you are hiding or reserving information, your therapist won’t be able to help you the best way they can because they don’t have all the information in regard to the situation or how you are feeling.
6. Therapy does not automatically lead to relief.
Therapy can be a really difficult and overwhelming process... trying to open up and talk about things that have been painful for you might be difficult and might not automatically lead to relief. Many times, once you make the choice to start therapy things may feel more difficult before any relief comes. Sticking with it and talking with your therapist about all of those feelings and pain points is important for your success.
7. Attend appointments even when you don’t want to.
There may be weeks that you have so much to talk about at your session, but there also may be weeks that you draw a blank or think ‘there really isn’t anything to talk about.’ I encourage you to push through that because some of the best sessions are the ones that you might not have something pressing. Usually, when there isn’t something pressing it can allow for the therapist to take an even deeper dive into some areas that have been skimmed over before.
8. Talking about yourself is NOT selfish!
Coming to therapy is probably not the first thing that you have tried to make yourself feel better. Taking care of yourself is about being able to acknowledge yourself and your own needs. This is different from being selfish because selfishness is not considering other people and how the decisions that you are making are impacting them. By taking this step to take care of yourself, is this something that will hurt or help your relationships? Most often, being able to learn how to take care of your own needs will also have a positive impact on the people around you as well… that does not sound selfish.
9. Therapy is hard work!
Therapy is not just about coming in, sitting on a couch, and talking about your feelings. Therapy is really hard work! You therapist can guide you and assist you in navigating the waters of life, but the hard work is outside of therapy. Once you leave a session, does the work just stop there? You go back out into your life with the same people, same job, same friends and in order for things to change it takes work on your part outside of therapy. Your therapist might assign you ‘homework’ or ‘commitments’ to follow through with outside of therapy and if you are not willing to put in the effort outside of therapy, your success will not only be limited but nearly impossible.
10. Know the difference between using your insurance private pay.
There are many different advantages and disadvantages to using your insurance coverage and why private pay or out of network may be better for you. You are also able to choose the therapist best suited for you with your specific area of need. There is also more flexibility and availability for therapists. Many times, coming to therapy means that you need to have a diagnosis in order for your insurance to be billed. With private pay this is not necessary. You are not restricted to a certain number of sessions and you have a higher degree of privacy and confidentiality. Those are all just a few of the reasons that private pay for therapy may be a better benefit for you than utilizing your insurance coverage. There is also the option for out-of-network coverage depending on your insurance where you are able to pay your therapist and request reimbursement from your insurance on your own.
Finding a therapist is a difficult process and can feel really overwhelming. However, taking all these things into account can help set you up for success and help you find a therapist that is a good match for you. To start your search, you can use directories such as therapy den, psychology today, or therapy route. If you are interested in getting started with me, you can now book our free 30 minute consultation online!