Thinking about therapy is a huge step towards your mental health. There are a few considerations that you should keep in mind.
Reading is so 2019. Sound cloud version below if you just want to listen.
I shared my experience as a black Christian woman who really benefitted from therapy. Truth is I would never have gone for therapy if it had not been for the car accident and the concussion that I suffered - catch up here. One of the ways in which a concussion affects us is socially and emotionally and therapy helped me to cope not just with the concussion symptoms but also heal emotionally. I have recently started therapy again, not in the context of concussion recovery but because I would like to heal and grow emotionally so I can be fully present for myself and for family and friends. I had an amazing session today and boy has it set me on the right path.
I said to my therapist: I'm so glad I found you!
So where do you start when figuring out what type of mental health support you are looking for? I have a list of 7 things to keep in mind. This is not meant to be conclusive, but a conversation starter.
1. Get a therapist who gets you
One of the key things that worked with the therapist who worked with me the first time around is that she happened to be a woman of colour and an immigrant from a culture where family and community mattered to her. Because of this, she understood my experience as an immigrant woman and as a woman of colour. She had also raised children in a culture that was different from what she had grown up in and she understood my context. More recently I looked specifically for a black therapist so that they could understand where I am coming from. Be clear on whether you are seeking a therapist of your gender, your cultural background, your spiritual background and ask questions.
2. Be clear on what you want to get out it
One of the key questions that I got asked by the therapists I have worked with is what do you want out of this? It is worth it to reflect on what your goal is for your journey. Even if that goal is to discover what area you are looking to heal on. Knowing what you want from it will help guide the therapist on how they can support you. Hint: wanting to change someone else is NOT a reason.
3. Go for the long-haul
Therapy is not a quick fix. Just as you wouldn't put a band-aid over a deep cut, you should be ready to invest your time to dig deep and do the restorative work of healing and maturing in your emotions. One of the challenges I faced is that the resource we had only covered 8 sessions so I felt rushed and that I had to really pick and choose the main issues. This second time around, I am really looking at the resources available to me so that I am able to really benefit from a longer-term relationship rather than a quick and surface work.
4. Don't go into therapy to change someone else
Newsflash! Therapy's goal is NOT to fix someone else. This was something I kept "threatening" the hubby to do - whenever we had an argument that was recurring I would threaten by saying that I was going to drag him into therapy. What I was really looking for was a referee to say that I was right and he was wrong. I thought he was the problem and that he needed fixing; boy was I wrong! Therapy helped me manage my emotions and my expectations. The only person you can change is you! You can pray for a change of heart or for more understanding from that person. At the end of the day though, you can only change your thoughts and your actions.
5. Therapy will help you heal emotionally
If you are in physical pain, you would see a doctor or get to the bottom of it. I don't know why when it comes to our emotional health we somehow want to "In Jesus' Name" it. You need to be healthy emotionally in order to flourish in your relationships and therapy can show you the areas of you need to work on and heal in so you can be show up emotionally mature and whole. I can't emphasize enough how important this is especially as a parent. My only regret is that I didn't start therapy earlier.
6. Know that therapy doesn't take away from your faith
You don't have less faith because you're going for therapy. As a person of faith, as a Christian if you fall sick, you would go see a doctor, if you needed surgery you wouldn't or shall I say shouldn't sit on it - you would seek a professional to do the surgery and you would PRAY that the Lord would guide them in their care for you. I actually found that therapy showed me the areas I needed to pray about and ask for God's guidance and healing on. The deeper the conversations in therapy have been, the better I have been able to bring prayer points before God either for peace, for direction or for healing. The stigma needs to stop among people of faith. Jesus + Faith is possible!
7. Therapy can give you practical tools to deal with everyday life
I got so many resources from the first therapist I worked with especially because she knew that we only had 8 sessions together. One of the things we talked about was sharing the mental load and how to rebalance that in the household. Rather than plan everything, for example, I shifted that load and even had hubby be responsible for certain things. That was a game changer because it helped me be less resentful. We also got some relationship games that we played together and that really helped us get back to talking to each other and not just coordinating the kids lives but actually having fulsome conversations.
So that's my journey. I hope it helps de-stigmatize therapy especially coming from a culture/community perspective and as a woman of faith. Therapy helps me know what to pray for and how to pray.
Its not an either/or....it is an AND.
Have you sought out therapy? How has it changed your relationships?