By: Alecia Taylor
One of the most popular –and wrong– stigmas about therapy is that taking advantage of therapy sessions means something is wrong with you. This is not true. Therapy is not exclusively for those who suffer from major mental disorders. The truth is, everyone needs to go to therapy.
Another false stigma about therapy is that it automatically means you will be put on medication. Many people confuse visiting a psychologist with a psychiatrist. The difference between the two is very simple: psychologists help with minor disorders and use psychotherapy to treat their patients, while psychiatrists treat severe mental disorders with prescribed medication.
Finding the Right Fit.
I like to think of therapy as finding a match. I take physical and mental health equally seriously. You wouldn’t go to a physician that you do not feel comfortable with, so you shouldn’t go to a therapist you do not feel comfortable with. This is very important, as you will need to open up and tell your therapist some things that might be hard to admit out loud.
Personally, I wanted a therapist that was a Black woman. As a Black woman myself, I did not want to over-explain myself and my thought process to my therapist because of cultural and gender differences. It was also important that my therapist and I had a certain chemistry. I cope with my problems through jokes and animated storytelling. Because of this, I wanted my therapist to be just as animated and funny as me.
When considering a therapist, you should decide what traits you would want your therapist to have. Therapists often specialize in certain mental disorders, traumas, or problems, so please research your therapist as well. This increases the positive outcome from your sessions! Most therapists offer free consultations to ensure that you both are comfortable with one another.
What Happens in Therapy? (My Experiences)
When thinking of therapy, one may envision the patient lying across a couch while the therapist sits in a chair taking notes. For me, this has not been the reality. Because of the pandemic, I have been attending my sessions virtually. My therapist and I start off with how I’m feeling, and we address any positive or negative things that have happened since we last met.
My therapist helps me unpack what causes me to feel certain ways and helps connect the dots from earlier problems to current events in my life. She often gives me “homework” that focuses on new ways for me to decompress my emotions.
Of course therapy looks different for everyone, but all sessions are about how to find a way for you to cope with your problems in a healthy way.
So Why Should I Go to Therapy?
I think that everyone should go to therapy if they can afford it. While in therapy, I have learned more about myself in these short few months than I have in my entire life. It’s like venting to a person that will never judge or see you in a negative light.
Therapy provides an outlet for you to express yourself in a healthy manner. If you struggle with verbal communication, there are other non-traditional therapy methods like musical therapy.
Whether or not you think your small problems are big problems, you deserve a safe space to unpack your feelings. Therapy can provide all of that and more.