I have had this post on my mind for quite some time but for whatever reason it just never came out. But, here it is!
I have written extensively about the myths in mental health but I wanted to also address some of the myths of therapy and expose some of the benefits. I don't know if this will turn into a series the way that the Mental Health Matters Series did but this is where we're starting.
I am hoping that this will help you if you are debating whether to not to start therapy, have scheduled your first appointment, or have started therapy but have some questions.
1. Therapy is more than just telling a stranger your business
Many people, particularly in black culture, do not want to go to therapy because we are told that we shouldn't be telling our business. Also, until recently the majority of therapists and social workers and the like were often white faces which we also have been taught not to trust. (Don't blame the messenger, blame the history.}
Therapy is processing.
It gives you an outlet to talk out some of the things in your mind or from your environment. Now, you may say that you can do this with your friends, family, other loved ones but it is different with a therapist for a couple different reasons. The first thing is that the therapist should be non-biased and non judgmental. Sure your friends and family want the best for you but sometimes they know too much history to be able to compartmentalize certain events. You can express your feelings freely. While the therapist may challenge some of your thoughts to make you go deeper they can do so in a non-judgmental way.
It is also confidential so you don't have to worry about what you say getting around to others.
2. Give it time
I see way too many people giving up on therapy way too soon. Trust their process. While you may think they're not moving fast enough the majority of the time (my fellow therapists understand this) we do have a plan for each session. I say give it at least three sessions before you give up. And I don't mean three scheduled sessions I mean three attended sessions.
3. It is okay to switch
It is important to have a chemistry and compatibility with your therapist. You should feel relaxed and comfortable. After you have given time for that to take place if it is not working don't be afraid to ask for another therapist within the same agency or go to a different agency. If you feel that you are stuck and not moving forward it is your decision to move on. I have heard of other therapists seeing the same person for years and having a really good connection but switching due to hitting a stalling point. But, before you suddenly switch try talking to your therapist about what is not working so that they have a chance to change things up for you.
I wanted this to be quick tips so I am going to end this here but if you have questions about therapy or would like to see if things you have heard are true or not feel free to leave them in a comment below or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, this is National Social Work Month so support your favorite social worker by taking us aka me (lol) out of lunch, send some cash ( $khiag or PayPal.com/notesbykhia ), OR simply purchase a shirt from my store.