Updated: Jul 6, 2021
A personal story of how I went from doubting therapy to embracing it
My life has handed me an abundance of unique struggles that have left me feeling as if I am incapable of relating to those around me. Losing both of my parents by the age of 14, while suffering and recovering from an eating disorder by 17 left me feeling isolated; I also struggled to find conversations with others on topics we could relate to. This became increasingly hard when it was time for me to find a therapist.
For so long, I had refused to go to therapy for fear that a therapist would not understand the specificity of my struggles, and I thought-- how could they possibly relate and help?
This article was written to share my personal experience of doubt in finding a therapist that I could connect with. I hope my experience helps encourage those who may also be doubting therapy, to give a new therapist a try.
I have been lucky enough to have had a great therapist who I developed a strong, and trusting relationship with. However, it was not always this way. Refusing to speak, and the repetition of the words, “I don't know”, as answers to questions filled my 60 minute sessions, leaving both of us feeling unfulfilled and uncomfortable. I believed that my therapist could never help me and that prevented me from even letting her try.
Soon my therapist began to open up a bit about her own life in as much detail as she was allowed, showing me that she too was a person who had faced adversity in her life. Although her experience was different from mine, it made me open to the idea that maybe her experiences could provide a new way of viewing and understanding my own. I soon realized that having someone to talk to who has different lived experiences allowed me to view my world through a new lens, and a healthier one at that. Working with a therapist who is trained in facing the difficulties of human existence allowed for a journey of understanding myself. Although she may never have felt the loss of both parents, she was able to use her training to allow me to take what I needed from each session.
I also recognize that finding the right therapist can also make the process of connecting and opening up in therapy faster and easier. It’s critical to find a therapist you vibe well with and trust. If you’re looking for a therapist, it’s worth it to invest the time upfront to find the right match, we can help you find that match at Unmute. It’s not fun telling your story over and over again, so “interview” therapists until you find someone you think you’ll vibe well with (read more about tips on how to have a phone consultation here).
I encourage those seeking therapy to allow therapists to do what they have been trained to do and to remain open to the experience. It is normal if therapy feels uncomfortable at first, it is at times when we are uncomfortable that the most growth happens. I often remind myself that it takes time to develop a relationship with a new friend or colleague, and a therapist is just the same. Unless you are an extreme extrovert, it can take time to open up about the things that are inside our heads. Oftentimes it is hard to admit these thoughts even to ourselves. Be patient, and remind yourself why you are seeking out this experience and trust the good that can come from it.
The author of this article, Patricia Cole, is an Unmute Therabuddy. Therabuddies are everyday people, many with lived experience in muted or marginalized communities who have experienced the challenges of finding the right therapist and want to help make it easier for you!
Note: This article covers general information & guidance. If someone you know is in crisis, please call the emergency services or the national suicide helpline: 1-800-273-8255. The content is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.