I remember my very first therapy session. I kept thinking, “am I sitting right or am I fidgeting? Do I look nervous? Maybe I should try smiling more… no that’s weird. Wait, what will she think if I don’t?” I was so anxious that my therapist would be analyzing my every move and word and it felt unusual to be so vulnerable with a complete stranger. Over time though, that initial awkwardness wore off, and we’d laugh about my nervousness in discussing my private matters. For me, therapy was life-changing and perhaps why I’m so passionate about helping people experience this breakthrough.

To fully experience the benefits of therapy, you need to find the right person to put your mental health, personal problems, and intimate details in their hands. There are important considerations you need to keep in mind throughout the therapy process. Here are some of them:

1. Do your research.
Spend some time writing down a list of goals and what you’re hoping to get out of therapy; you’ll want to ensure that the person you’ll be seeing has the right tools to help you. Next, find out relevant information, including the therapist’s education, certifications, and specializations. Understand what their credentials mean, where they are licensed and supervised, and what modalities they use to see if it’s relevant to you. You have a right to guarantee that you’re seeing someone qualified and trained.

2. Request a phone consultation.
Reach out and ask to chat with them. Prepare some questions to ask or send them via email. Phone consultations typically last for 15 minutes where you can get to know the therapist more and ask them questions about their clinical training and expertise, discuss some issues you want support in, and what you hope to get out of therapy. Discuss insurance, inquire about their fees, and ask about sliding scales.

3. Trust your gut.
Notice how you’re feeling while you’re speaking to them. Are you comfortable sharing more about your problems? Do they seem warm, gentle, and understanding? Do you feel heard and acknowledged? Are there are any red flags?

4. There is no “quick fix.”
Therapy isn’t always going to be comfortable and relaxing. You will be probed and will need to work hard to reach your goals. Try to be patient and know that “quick” results are highly unlikely. It’s a helpful journey, but a challenging one that takes time.

5. Remember, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’.
After a few sessions, if you feel like you’re not benefiting from your time together, don’t be discouraged. One therapist that you know was a good fit with some people may yet seem unhelpful for you. You can reassess your goals with them and decide whether you’d like to terminate your sessions. Consider asking them for a referral to another therapist they’d recommend given your goals and concerns.

Real therapy can be painful, frustrating at times, and hard work. But it works. By remaining open, honest, and willing to receive help, the therapeutic process can be very productive and beneficial.

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