The longer I’ve been on social media, the more I’ve seen people open up and be honest about mental health. And that’s fantastic. And I’ve also seen people be more open about therapy and counselling for mental health conditions. I’ve had counselling and therapy and I’m a huge advocate for it too and it really pains me to hear that people don’t use it, for a variety of reasons, when they could potentially benefit so much. Obviously I’m not a professional but I want to talk about my personal relationship with therapy and why you absolutely shouldn’t be put off by it.
My first experience with counselling wasn’t brilliant. It was a referral from the GP to CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and firstly it took months to even get an appointment after being on a waiting list. I quickly found out that this type of therapy wasn’t for me and in actual fact, the only thing that I found beneficial from it was the fact it got me out of the house and into an unfamiliar environment, as I had been suffering from acute agoraphobia at the time and leaving the house made me hella anxious.
This didn’t work for me for a variety of reasons but I know lots of people find it exceptionally helpful. We will all benefit from different types of therapy. After this, we found me a private counsellor and although we had to pay per-session, it was an invaluable experience. The therapist I saw focuses more of talking-therapy and this worked really well for me. She understood me, my needs and my worries completely and within 1 session, I came out feeling like a new person. I don’t need regular therapy anymore but I still see her every once in a while if I need to or want to go through something with her. She’s like a comfort blanket and I know she’s always there if I find myself in a dark place.
Now that’s only a small snippet of my experience with anxiety but I want to share my tips for those who may want or need therapy but are a bit lost of torn with the idea. I would never not advocate for therapy or counselling because I don’t see it as a place you to go “fix” yourself, I see it as a place to help yourself grow and find out more about yourself.
- Don’t let one bad experience put you off for life: If I had given up after my first experience with CBT and not found another therapist I honestly dread to think where I would be right now. Like everything in life, the first thing you try will not always be the perfect solution for you.
- Finding the right therapist is invaluable: Expanding on the above statement, if it’s the actual therapist who you don’t get on with or feel like they don’t fully understand you, then find another one. Or if you’re receiving free counselling from your GP, request another one. We all have our favourite and least favourite teachers, it’s the same with therapists.
- Don’t be disheartened if one type of therapy doesn’t work for you: We’re all different, with very different needs. Try different things and find what works for you the best.
- If you need extra support, call the Samaritans: I honestly couldn’t rave about Samaritans enough because they are a truly wonderful organisation. I’ve rung them countless times; during really bad times and when I felt like I just needed someone to talk to. They’re there 24/7, 7 days a week so if you receive therapy or just want extra support, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone.
Therapy is a wonderful, wonderful thing and it doesn’t mean that you’re weak by going or needing or wanting to go. Therapy is a great way to find coping mechanisms, to learn more about what makes you tick (or un-tick), to allow a professional to know the deepest parts of your psyche and to allow them to help you utilize these parts and help you grow as a person. It isn’t shameful. It isn’t embarrassing. So don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.