A Therapeutic Anniversary

I recently reached my one year anniversary of being with my current therapist.  I think this is the longest I’ve ever been with one person.

I’ve been to a few therapists over the years–starting at age 7 or 8–and have usually been happy with the results.  As someone who wants to know myself as deeply as possible, I think it’s healthy to speak to a mental health professional when I have an issue that’s troubling me.  There are many things that I’m unable to put into perspective until discussing them with someone else.

Which is the way I think it works even with non-client/analyst relationships.  When you have an issue (at work, home, etc.), it often helps to talk with someone else about it and get their take on the situation.  Many times we’re too close to a situation to see it clearly, not to mention whatever emotions might make it murkier.  So it’s nice to hash things out with a friend or loved one.

But sometimes, your friends or loved ones are somehow involved in the issue, or sometimes you’re too embarrassed to discuss something with people who know you.  And that’s where speaking with a mental health professional of some sort can come in handy.  These people don’t have an emotional stake in whatever drama is going on in your life.  So they’re able to listen objectively and point out truths (or at least possibilities) that you might not be able to see.

Lucy TherapistAnd that’s what my current therapist does for me.  She’s able to listen to my thoughts and emotions and can steer me in the direction that’s going to best help me deal with whatever’s going on.  The fact that I’ve been going to her for a year says a lot, too.  I don’t think I’ve ever been to a therapist for this long before.

I’ve had two other therapists in my adult life, but the longest I’ve ever stayed with one was five months.  I liked that one a lot, too, but I was leaving Chicago to move out here to California, so it was time to say goodbye.  And the other one I left after three sessions, because I just knew she wasn’t going to be able to help me very well.

That’s one of the reasons I highly recommend testing out a prospective shrink before you invest too much time and effort (not to mention, money).  You can usually tell after about four sessions whether or not you two will be on the same wavelength.  Even when people recommend someone to you, it’s still best to do a trial run, because different methods are used by different professionals, and might not jibe with what you’re looking for.  Some analysts like to have you do most of the talking, while they gently guide you toward the realizations they think you need to make.  And others will ask lots of questions in order to get you to open up.  I haven’t met one yet that actually uses the phrase “Tell me about your mother,” but I’m sure they’re even out there.

When you finally find a therapist that you like, it’s best to be completely open and honest with him/her.  After all, they can’t help you really heal, if you’re not willing to give them all the pertinent information.  Withholding is NOT helpful to either of you, and can often leave you feeling as though the session wasn’t a good one.  Too many of those and you’ll probably start to feel that the relationship just isn’t working out.  Good communication is necessary for ANY relationship.

And that’s something I have with my current therapist, thankfully.  There’s enough of a two-way street going between us that I feel I can be honest with her.  She’s not there to judge me, she’s there to help me.  And she has.

So, if you haven’t tried therapy out yet, I recommend that you do.  It doesn’t mean that you’re crazy (any more than the rest of us), it just means that you need the help from an objective third-party every now and then.  And there’s nothing crazy about that.

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