So you are thinking about going to therapy. You may have just decided this moment it is something you need in your life, or maybe you have been craving some professional guidance on your mental health for years. Either way, I ‘m happy you are at a place in life where therapy has become a more reachable resource!
Scheduling that first appointment can be daunting, nerve-racking, and anxiety provoking…but it could also be the move that gets your life back on track! Before you “request an appointment” however, it is important to do some self reflection about what role you want your therapist to play in your life. That’s why I give you 3 questions to ask yourself BEFORE scheduling your first appointment.
Disclosure: Your therapist will NOT be a friend, advice giver, enabler, or a passive listener. So if that is what you are looking for…don’t seek it in a therapist.
Are you ready to put in the work?
Therapy is not just a place to vent for an hour each week. Therapy is a place for growth and reflection and CHANGE. Let me repeat that…CHANGE. Change can be scary for a lot of people, and if you are not ready to get comfortable with change, you probably aren’t ready for therapy. That’s not to say that therapy can’t help you get comfortable with change. If you know things need to be different in your life and you are willing to discover what has gone wrong and what could go better…therapy may just be your jumpstart to a new life.
Therapy involves working on yourself consistently from week to week. Unlike an annual doctor’s visit, where your physician may prescribe 30 minutes of exercise a day and drinking more water, then not see you again for a year just to find out you haven’t exercised or drank more water… Therapy is nearly weekly…if you haven’t worked on the things you said you wanted to your therapist is going to call you out on it…every week…until you start to make the changes. A therapist can be a very good accountability person, and can be exceptional at helping you problem solve what is getting in the way of you accomplishing the small day to day battles.
If you believe that you are ready for a fresh outlook on your own life…scheduling that appointment might just be a good idea.
Do you know how you want your therapist to help you?
You believe you are ready for change, but do you know what you want to change? Going into therapy with the thought, “My life isn’t working for me right now. I need something different.” is a good start, but a GREAT start would be thinking (for example), “My life isn’t working for me right now because my relationship/career/family/etc. are not fulfilling me the way I need. I need to work on finding balance/something new/peace/etc.”
Ask yourself what you need your potential therapist to help you with. What have you done so far to try and help yourself? And how will therapy emphasize or add too this effort? Do you need to discover certain communication skills or better boundary setting skills or discover yourself or something else? Think of questions to ask this potential therapist so you know they are a good fit for you and your areas of growth.
- Do you specialize in working with certain populations?
- Do you diagnose your clients?
- What is your theoretical approach? And how will that influence our work together?
- Do you recommend individual, couples, or family therapy for ________ issues?
How present do you want therapy to be in your life?
After checking in with yourself about how much work you are willing to put in and how involved you want your therapist to be in your growth…it is only right to ask how those two things may interact throughout this journey. Maybe you know yourself well enough to say you need that weekly appointment to hold you accountable, or maybe you know you just need a monthly check in to keep you on track. Maybe what you really need is a support network that could be established through group therapy or maybe your relationship is really what could benefit from therapeutic intervention.
Whatever combination you need, there is a therapist out there that can meet your expectations.
Always consider your financial health in this process as well, seek out community mental health clinics or associate therapists for reduced cost services. You can find licensed and/or registered therapists in your city at psychologytoday.com or therapyforblackgirls.com