Your mental health is as important as your physical health. Just like you visit a cardiologist when something is wrong with your heart and a neurologist when you get unexplained chronic headaches that last for days, you visit a therapist or a psychologist when your emotions are wreak havoc on your life or when your thoughts bar you from functioning normally.
But the first step to getting better is to accept that you need help. Once you have decided that you need help, the next step would be to find the right guy for the job. Now, all you have to do is to be honest (with your therapist and yourself) and go with the flow. Having said that, it’s important to note that signing up for therapy takes a lot of courage, especially in a country like ours where mental health disorders are still considered a taboo.
But don’t worry folks, if you have decided to seek help, here are some things that you should know before you visit your therapist:
1) Have a goal in mind
Your road to recovery is a rocky one and there are no shortcuts to follow. It’s ok to have certain apprehensions before your first visit, but don’t expect any magical cure. Have a list of things that you want to achieve from the therapy. This will give you realistic and achievable targets and help your therapist to achieve the same.
2) It’s not a life-long commitment
Unlike our ‘saat-janmo ka Bandhan‘ philosophy, therapy is not a lifelong commitment. It will take you a couple of sessions to figure out if your therapist is a good fit for you. If he/she isn’t, just switch to another one. Therapy is not a bitter pill that you swallow to get well. If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit.
3) It’s not a job interview
While it’s good to have a list of questions that you would like to ask your therapist, remember, it’s not a job interview and there are no right or wrong answers. In fact, your therapist is working just as hard as you are to figure out the bits and pieces of your life.
4) Be ready to talk about the skeletons in your closet
The key to getting the maximum benefit from your therapy is by telling the truth no matter how embarrassing or how painful it might be. Remember, it will get worse before it gets better and sometimes you will have to rip the bandage to heal old wounds.
5) Don’t expect a magical transformation in your first session
It’s good to have set targets. However, it’s insane to believe that your therapist will give you a magic cure and fix everything in the first session. Therapy takes time to work and sometimes it can even take months.
6) You can expect the office to look like a living room
Unlike a regular doctor (and by regular I mean someone like a physician or a dentist or an ophthalmologist), the office of a therapist might look like a cozy living room with a sofa and indoor plants. The set up is there to help you feel comfortable.
7) You can go back to therapy even if you leave it
Another doubt that most people have is about returning to it. Whether you left it in between or you think you need help again, you can always go back to therapy. There is no hard and fast rule about it.