How to find a good therapist, why to consider therapy and more

The therapy changed my life. Anyone who’s met me more than a handful of times has probably heard of it (sorry). I just can’t help it – I’m so amazed at the difference hour-long sessions once a month (even if, sometimes, once every two weeks) have made to my way of thinking and , therefore, on my way of acting.

But it took me years to even begin all the mental unpacking of the past. And all because I couldn’t find a therapist I felt comfortable with.

I went to see one who gave me homework I hadn’t done so I felt guilty at the next appointment. Then I went to another who I felt had no compassion (or display of any emotion, for that matter) and who, throughout our session, kept looking at the clock. While that might not have been a problem for some people, for me it meant I didn’t feel totally comfortable. This is what I later learned is vital to being able to really benefit from therapy.

So if you are considering it and wondering more about how it works, I thought I could help you by sharing my experience with expert advice from Nancy Sokarno, a psychologist at Lysn.

How do you know if you need therapy?

First, you probably want to know: do you even need therapy? According to Sokarno, yes. “The biggest misconception is that you have to have depression or huge ‘problems’ to see a therapist, and that’s just not true,” she says.

“Therapy should be approached the same way as approaching your physical health. We all know that to maintain a level of physical health and fitness, we need to constantly exercise and eat well. Therapy should be seen as a gym for your mind – you can regularly visit a gym or personal trainer to stay physically fit and the same goes for staying mentally fit.

Sokarno says that ideally you need to see a therapist consistently and not just when there’s a “problem” or something you want to “fix.” She also addresses the misconception that you don’t need to see a therapist if you regularly talk to friends and family.

“It’s true that some people have strong relationships and deep conversations with loved ones, but the truth is, you’re probably not going to tell them everything,” she says.

“While having a strong support system is very important, therapy offers a different type of support. When talking to a therapist, you don’t need to filter out your true feelings or let a therapist talk about their own feelings in turn. You also gain insight into processing emotions, finding more adaptive ways of thinking and behaving.

How to find a good therapist?

Once you know you want to try therapy, the next step is finding a good therapist. As I mentioned, I only had a few sessions with both therapists before I cut my losses. Also on the mental health care plan here in Australia you only get 10 mental health sessions applicable to Medicare reimbursement so I didn’t want to waste them on sessions with someone who – and that sounds funny to say – I did not see a future with.

Turns out Sokarno says a few sessions is actually the right amount of time to give him to figure out if a therapist is right for you.

“Studies show that 80 percent of therapy success is tied to matching up with your best psychologist,” she says. “So that shows how important it is to find someone you click with and, if you don’t, switch therapists. You can tell if you click with your therapist because you’ll feel comfortable opening up, you will feel like you are “heard”, you will enforce your boundaries and be receptive to the things your therapist has to say.

“At the end of the day, if you just like your therapist as a person, that’s a great start. Even if the conversation starts on the surface while flowing naturally and freely, that can be a good sign.

Sokarno also suggests considering online therapy options, like Lysn, where she works. There, they match people with therapists based on their personal interests and skills.

What to do in therapy?

You know you want therapy and you’ve found a therapist you click with, now what? Well, you’ll want to try to approach each session with an open mind and ultimately be ready to try new things and make changes, Sokarno says.

“Try to remove all expectations and preconceptions about how it should turn out and be prepared to expect the unexpected,” she says. “Be open and honest whenever you can and try to remove any obstacles you may have erected.”

Again, like how you train with a personal trainer in a gym, therapy is a collaboration. Once you’re in session with your therapist, your path to wellness should be a team effort, says Sokarno. Although your therapist may be the person who guides you, you always bear the responsibility to open up about the difficult aspects of your life.

“The best way for your therapist to get to know the real you (with the intention of helping you) is for you to be completely honest about your thoughts and feelings,” she says.

What can you expect from therapy?

And finally – what can you expect from therapy, in terms of results? Well, if it works like that on me, great. But I have to mention that, as Sokarno says about teamwork, I really gave it my all. I wanted to lead a different life and so I tried everything to make it happen.

I truly believe that therapy is for everyone because everyone can benefit from it, says Sokarno.

“Whether it’s a place to help you better understand your emotions, work on habits you’d like to change, develop coping strategies for certain situations, practice self-awareness, or simply explore your feelings without judgment, you can really get a lot of therapy out of it.

“It’s also a hugely important option for those who might be dealing with issues like addiction anxiety, relationship issues, emotional difficulties and really for anyone who wants to make changes for better health. emotional.”

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