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“If you are not happy with something, you should change it. So I went to a lot of therapy, and finally, I am able to speak up for myself. Now, you are going to hear me roar!“ ~ Katy Perry
Who Does Therapy Help?
Psychotherapy, also known as “talk therapy,” counseling, or simply “therapy” can be beneficial for people who are struggling with emotional difficulties, life challenges, and mental health concerns like depression. Contrary to popular belief, people who do not have mental illnesses can also seek help from therapists. In fact, many 20-somethings have discovered the value of working with mental health professionals on personal and social issues.
As a result, the stigma formerly associated with seeking help is steadily dissolving. In fact, many young adults are beginning to discover the advantages of working with experienced, empathetic professionals, who can guide them through the ups and downs of life. Therapy can also help reduce or alleviate many mental health symptoms, which is another reason it’s okay to go.
The one thing therapy is not, is a “crutch.”
Instead, it’s an invaluable tool that can change your life for the better. Understand that counseling does not “cure” or zap your struggles away. However, it can teach you how to let go of the past and move on with your life. But most of all, it can give you hope – and that helps.
Benefits of Seeing a Therapist
Moreover, a therapist can teach you how to better manage the symptoms that continue to linger. He or she can also teach you how to identify and address new or re-emerging symptoms when they arise, so you can squash them before they disrupt your life. Another great thing about going to therapy is you retain the skills you learned or strengthened during it.
As a result, the risk of experiencing “flares” or relapses significantly declines. Understand, however, there may be sessions that are emotionally painful and distressing, but these are necessary for growth and healing. Once you’ve weathered the storm, you will feel more free and self-sufficient. Also, you’ll be able to see yourself, the situation, and your life through a clearer lens.
So, yes, it is okay to go to therapy! The truth is seeking help, guidance, or assistance with issues and/or wanting to “better” yourself doesn’t make you weak, sad, broken, undesirable, or worthless. Rather, therapy simply makes you healthier, stronger, and more resilient so you can live your best life. It also boosts your self-esteem, giving you more confidence in yourself and your abilities. Thankfully, you have this article to help you prepare for your first counseling session!
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Read the longer version.
You can learn more about “therapy”and “the first therapy session”
by reading the following articles: 5 Ways Everyone Can Benefit from Seeing a Therapist by LiveStrong, 11 Intriguing Reasons To Give Talk Therapy A Try by Forbes, What is Therapy? by Good Therapy, What to Expect During Your First Therapy Session by Very Well Mind, How Much Does Therapy Cost? (And Why Is It So Expensive?) by TalkSpace, and Stages of Therapy: The First Session by Embrace Strength Counseling.
Check your health insurance coverage.
Check your health insurance benefits before you go to your first counseling session – to prevent the shock of co-pays and deductibles. Although office staff usually check a client’s insurance for them, it doesn’t hurt to double check before you schedule or attend your first session.
Keep in mind, most therapists require co-pays and/or deductibles for sessions – at the time of service, which means when you show up for your appointment. Make sure you are financially prepared to handle this responsibility.
Thankfully, many, if not most, therapy offices have multiple payment options – i.e. credit cards, payment plans, and cash. Some even allow you to pay online before or after you receive therapy. You can request that office staff bill your health insurance – however, if the insurance claim comes back denied for some reason, it will be your responsibility to foot the bill.
Note: If you have a hard time interpreting your health insurance coverage, the following articles can help you better understand the terminology: 9 Individual Health Insurance Terms You Should Know and Health Insurance Terms. If you are still unclear about what your insurance plan covers, give your insurance company a call: Blue Cross Blue Shield, CIGNA, United Health, Aetna, etc.
Think about the outcome.
Next, you’ll need to think about the outcome or what you would like to happen as a result of therapy. Ask yourself the following question – “What do I want to get out of therapy?” Also, think about this – if you went to sleep tonight and woke the next morning with all the issues that originally led you to therapy gone, what would your life look like then? In other words, what would be different or better?
If you’re not sure what to tell your therapist during your first therapy session, purchase a journal and jot down your thoughts, feelings, fears, worries, and concerns in it. Don’t worry about proper English or grammatical errors – that isn’t important, rather go with your gut and just write. The goal of this exercise is to help you pinpoint your distress.
Then, take your journal with you to your first therapy session, so your therapist can get a better idea of your concerns, where you are mentally and emotionally at the moment, and what you’d like to see resolved or improved by the end of the therapy process.
Being realistic is the most important step you can take to prepare for your first therapy session. Keep in mind that therapy is a marathon – not a sprint to the finish. In other words, it’s a process, so it can take a while to reach success. Mentally prepare yourself that therapy is not going to be a “quick fix” or “cure all.” It’s going to take work, so it’s important that you get into the right head space. In addition, it’s important that you be honest with yourself and your therapist. During the first two or three sessions, your therapist will work on building a rapport with you.
Trust is essential for therapy to work. So, the first goal will be to get to know each other and build a positive doctor-patient relationship. You may see little-to-no progress during the first 6 to 8 sessions – that is to be expected. It takes time to build up momentum and experience real progress. Be patient.
Note: It may be beneficial for you to learn more about the therapy process and what to expect from therapy before you go to your first session. The following article can provide you with a pretty accurate depiction of what actually occurs during therapy, so you can determine what therapy can and cannot do for you – Setting Goals and Developing Treatment Plans in Therapy.
Remember, you are re-training your thought processes and revisiting painful, upsetting, and/or traumatic memories, so this is not the time to rush.
About the Author
Dr. R. Y. Langham
Ph.D. in Family Psychology
Ree has a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (M.M.F.T.) and a Ph.D. in Family Psychology. She spent over ten years counseling families, couples, individuals, and children on adjustment issues such as blended families, same-sex couples, dysfunctional family relationships, relationship issues, etc. Now she writes for famous health organizations and is a published author.
Full Bio | LinkedIn
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