Therapy: Common Questions Answered

Therapy: Common Questions Answered

This summer, I decided to take the step to speak to a therapist about my anxiety. For those of you who may not know, I have experienced anxiety from about the age of 13 (even though I now understand my anxiety goes back further than this point). I had never properly been to see a therapist before and so this summer I decided that it felt like the right time to speak to someone and work on my anxiety. I have personally found it amazing and speaking to a therapist has been one of the best decisions I have made. It has been really helpful in terms of self-acceptance, validating how I am feeling and the steps moving forward.

So, in today’s blog post, I wanted to take some time to answer some common questions about therapy. Before I went to speak to a therapist, I had a lot of pre-conceived ideas about what therapy was and, because of this, was very apprehensive before my first few appointments. So, I wanted to sit down and answer questions I may have had as well as other common questions surrounding therapy for those who may be in a similar position to me a few months ago, or to those who may be curious about what therapy is like.

How do I know I should see a therapist?

The decision to speak to a therapist is a personal one, and different people may reach the decision to do so at different stages. From my experience, I took the step to see a therapist when my anxiety was interfering with my everyday life. However, I now feel as though I could have definitely benefited from speaking to someone sooner. What I am trying to say is that people see therapists for lots of different reasons. Whether you want to speak to someone about a long-standing mental health experience or something that has just become a part of your life in the last month, therapy can be helpful.

No mental health experience is too big or too small to speak to someone about.

Checking in with yourself and your mental health on a regular basis can be a great way of knowing when feels right to speak to a therapist about what you are experiencing.

Don’t be afraid to seek help. People are quick to speak to someone about a physical injury, and we should get to a point where it is as easy to speak to someone about our experiences with mental health.

What should I expect from my first appointment?

Going to your first appointment has the potential to be nerve-wracking, because many people don’t know what to expect from the session. The first appointment in my experience is essentially a ‘get to know you’ session, where you speak to your therapist about why you are coming to see them. Don’t have too many high expectations of the outcome of your first appointment, this comes with time. The first session is very much a starting point, making sure that the person you are speaking to is right for you.

How can I find a therapist?

This definitely differs dependent on where you are in the world. I can only speak of the UK, so if you are elsewhere, I would recommend researching or speaking to your doctor about this. In terms of the UK, there is of course the NHS and I would recommend speaking to your GP. I was lucky enough to be able to speak to someone in a private capacity through a referral from a family friend. There are many websites out there for therapists in the local area as well so this can be a great place to go if you are too looking for a private practice or therapist. Also, make sure that if you are speaking to someone in a private capacity that they are BACP checked. What I would also say here is don’t be disheartened if the first person you see isn’t the best person for you - I would encourage you to try different therapists if necessary until you feel you are comfortable and have found the right person to speak to.

How long will I be in therapy for?

The therapist will likely suggest the amount of sessions they feel you need. There is often a standard amount of sessions in the UK of 6-8, and the amount of sessions you will need from there can change throughout the appointments dependent on how you are doing. The length of time you are in therapy for is very much dependent on you as an individual. It may also be that after finishing therapy, you may wish to revisit your therapist further down the line. As with physical health, mental health is very much a journey and changes over time, so continue to check in with yourself once you have finished therapy to see where you may wish to look for help again.

I would definitely encourage anyone who is considering speaking to a therapist to do so. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and have that initial chat. Any therapist will be happy to give you guidance on the first steps to take.

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