5 top tips before starting therapy

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feeling anxious about speaking to a psychologist? this guide from our guest contributor, ana, perfectly sums up all you need to know before speaking to someone like her

when mental health issues become serious and we realise we need extra help to get through it, we may start looking for professional help. for many of those with ongoing mental health issues, from childhood for example, therapy is a daunting step on the road to recovery and something that may have been put off for years

however, here at sidekick, we’re passionate about empowering people to support their own mental health. we are a community that supports one another and asking for help is a first, courageous step

many people question why they have not taken this step sooner, but sit down and tell yourself, “I am starting to face the problem and paying attention to my own needs, that is the only thing that matters right now”

here are some steps you can take to ease your mind when beginning the journey of therapy: 

5 tips and tricks

  1. begin the conversation – talk to a friend you trust, ask them if they have any experiences speaking to a mental health professional, and if so, can they refer them to you. chances are you are bound to feel more comfortable with someone that has been personally recommended to you
  2.  do your research – look for a therapist who has a therapeutic and treatment approach that matches with your values and the way you want to live. you will learn from them based on their own training and belief system of the best way of dealing with things, e.g. healthy coping strategies, forgiveness, interpersonal skills and self-awareness. for example, you may resonate more with the vision of an ecotherapist rather than a humanist psychotherapist or a psychoanalyst. and of course, always find out information about licenses, certificates of education, policies etc
  3. find the right therapist for you look for apps in your country or abroad that offer psychotherapy. I can give you an example in spain: psonríe. there, you could find a wide range of therapists to try and there’s even a free trial available!
  4. make sure you feel comfortable – once you meet the therapist, make sure they’re the right one for you. feeling comfortable with them, feeling accepted and not judged, are essential for the ongoing treatment and to achieve the best results. you need to feel and know you could tell them anything that worries and bothers you. if you don’t feel like that, don´t worry, it’s not to say they’re not a great therapist, they’re just not the right one for you. keep going; there are plenty more fish in the sea!
  5. accept that therapy is a journey – have realistic expectations and remember that a therapist is not a wizard. unfortunately there is no miracle cure for mental health issues; your personal growth takes time, and working through your suffering is a journey

if you feel like you’re not progressing fast enough, remember this quote by professor kelly g. wilson is one of the founders of the worldwide known acceptance and commitment therapy (act):

“when we turn away from suffering, we miss other things, rich and varied, that are inextricably linked to suffering. values & vulnerabilities are poured from the same vessel. consider the ways you have been deeply hurt & see if each hurt was not connected to a deeply held value”

professor kelly g. Wilson invites us to be present in the moment and let everything come without fight against things we can´t control. act invites us to validate every thought and feeling that occurs inside us, let them be instead of avoiding them. then, let them go kindly if they are not helping us to manage our life according to our own values. a therapist will aid you through this process, but it’s worth remembering that this is not an overnight fix

conclusion

healing and self growth are a journey. even if at first you don’t see results, trust and work on it so that change could happen. in the meanwhile, download the sidekick app and build your own mental wellbeing toolkit, keep a mental health journal or participate in some breathing exercises! I also highly recommend mel robbins podcasts on Spotify, she will empower you and help you to make decisions and commitments

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