Much like you don't need to be on the brink of a medical emergency to schedule a routine check-up, seeking therapy doesn't require you to be in the midst of a meltdown or overwhelmed by life.
Just as certain medical check-ups aim to prevent diseases, psychotherapy can be a proactive measure to prevent emotional breakdowns. By creating a relationship with a therapist before a crisis hits, you can deal with your life stressors. Cultivating a trusting therapeutic alliance gives you a safe space to process unexpected challenges that may arise.
We tend to wait until situations become unmanageable before seeking help. However, this approach is not the best thing for our self-care. I have come to realize over the years how advantageous it is to reach out to a therapist before feelings of overwhelm and fear take hold.
Don't Let Finances Dictate Seeking Support
Even if you have insurance coverage, therapy often involves some financial investment, which can add stress. Understandably, this stress is exactly what you're trying to alleviate. Yet, entering therapy might be one of the most valuable expenditures you make.
I recall a time after my mother died when financial concerns were paramount. Despite this, I consciously chose to seek help. It proved to be incredibly helpful during an immensely challenging period. It was challenging to change my previous habit of waiting until things were overwhelming before seeking assistance. While part of me wishes I had taken a different approach, another part accepts the choices I made at that time.
Establish a Supportive Sanctuary
By building a supportive and open relationship with a therapist before a crisis, you can reasonably ensure that someone you trust will be there for you when needed. While smooth periods might seem like times to postpone seeking help, if you're already navigating life's challenges, it's advisable to reach out sooner.
It's worth noting that finding the right therapist might require a few attempts. Trust your intuition. If a brief phone conversation leaves you confident about the rapport, consider scheduling an appointment. I like to say, If you do not feel a click with your therapist, no harm, no foul don't reschedule, and continue your search.
A majority of success in therapy is the relationship between the client and the therapist. If you do not feel the therapist can support you look for another. Many therapists are willing to have a brief phone conversation before you commit. Define the qualities you're seeking in this therapeutic relationship. Prepare relevant questions, such as interventions used, cost, and scheduling process.
Sometimes, it takes more than one session to discern compatibility. In the first session, you should get the sense that the therapist has the ability to address your issues. Additionally, pay attention to your body's reactions. We often forget our body sends strong messages about any relationship.
How do you feel talking with them?
Do you feel heard, understood, validated, respected, and genuinely cared for? This factor is incredibly important.
Are they doing more of the talking during a session?
Is the environment safe and comfortable if you're physically present in their office?
Do they demonstrate compassion, experience, and expertise relevant to your concerns?
Ultimately, trust your intuition. How do you feel in their presence? Do you recognize the sensation of being heard and cared for? This is the minimum foundation for a positive therapeutic relationship, but it's insufficient. Effective therapists require training and experience, ideally abundant training and experience.
Utilize Crisis Hotlines if Necessary
Given the heightened stress of today's world, a meltdown might be looming for many. If you lack insurance or the financial means for therapy, reaching out to a crisis hotline can offer immense relief. Expressing your worries to someone who attentively listens and responds kindly can be incredibly soothing for your heart, mind, and soul. If this isn't comfortable, consider confiding in a clergy member. Although having friends, family, or a partner to share your thoughts with is valuable, conversing with a neutral party provides a distinct experience.
As a firm believer in the benefits of therapy, especially as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, I assert that almost everyone can gain from quality therapy. The opportunity to unravel thoughts, unburden yourself, and connect with a professional dedicated to aiding you is an unparalleled gift.
If you're needing some extra support don't hesitate to reach out.