Couch Chronicles – my weekly hour of therapy
Why should you care about my therapy journey from here on out referred to as couch chronicles? Well because hopefully, it leaves you with some insight into my weekly hour of therapy without the $120 price tag. Although for an hour of self-care $120 isn’t bad. Especially because the HSA pays for therapy and doesn’t pay for facials.
My hope is to share the things that make therapy great for me. Share the things that are hard. To make going to therapy seem less hard. And encourage you to try therapy if you haven’t. But not through BetterHelp. Fuck those guys.
My first appointment with a new therapist aka my weekly hour of therapy
Today I had my first appointment with a new therapist and it’s always an adjustment to get to know someone new and figure out how you’re going to be open and vulnerable with a perfect stranger. I think I have an advantage because I’ve been in therapy for a decade. Off and on, but still experienced. However, my therapist (who I’m calling B) did something today that I really enjoyed. She took all the regular history but then she asked me some additional questions that started everything off on a positive note. She asked me what my strengths are and what I feel proud of.
I’m going to be honest with you. A few years ago those questions would have petrified me. I would’ve been rooted to the spot unable to come up with a single strength or thing I was proud of. Have you ever felt like that? If you have, you’re not alone.
But today I had positives. I even had an answer to the question “what do you do for fun?” I like to garden. I like to read. I like house projects and making things. I like to play games and go on dates! At the height of my depression, I would never have been able to answer that question. I didn’t even have the energy to get out of bed then. Now I have the energy to not only garden at home but go to the community garden and volunteer there! So we’re already off to a good start!
If you haven’t been to therapy what you can expect
In order for therapy to be “successful” therapists have to develop a treatment plan. In order to develop a treatment plan they’ll start off by asking you a lot of questions. Most therapists will send you a really long questionnaire in advance of your session. I hate that. I find it really difficult to write down all the reasons I might be seeking therapy out in detail alone. So I’ve started asking my therapists if we can fill it out together in session. Remember, therapy should benefit you, so if something makes you uncomfy just say so. Some questions might be:
- What are your current and past mental health concerns?
- What do your relationships look like?
- What is your family background?
- Is there anything contributing to your current desire to get therapy?
- Any major illnesses/surgeries/medical concerns?
- What medications are you taking?
What if I’ve gone to the first appointment and I hate my therapist?
Babes I mean this so genuinely and honestly. Fire them. Whether it is your first session or 100th session if you and your therapist aren’t vibing it’s time to find a new therapist. Unfortunately, it’s a lot like dating. You might have to go on some crappy first dates to find a gem. You might outgrow a relationship. Someone might move (I’m still grieving the loss of that therapist). What is great is that you can have a free consultation with therapists. This typically happens over the phone and is around 15 minutes. Use that time to ask them questions that are important to you. I ask the following three questions because they’re important to me:
- What experience do you have working with the queer community?
- Are you currently attending church and how do you work with religious abuse?
- Do you offer practices beyond cognitive behavioral therapy (talk therapy) and give homework?
You can also google lists of questions to ask therapists and they will include things like:
- Do you accept insurance?
- What is the cost?
- How often should we meet?
How can I make therapy feel more comfortable?
I like to do things that make me feel cozy!
- I bring my favorite drink to therapy – sometimes coconut water, sometimes tea, sometimes a big gulp. Whatever feels good that day.
- I wear comfy clothes I can sit crisscross apple sauce in.
- I bring a notebook that is dedicated solely to therapy to take notes or write poems.
And I go to therapy once a week. I don’t schedule anything else on that day (I know it’s a luxury of being self-employed but the principle remains the same) so that after therapy I can decompress and feel good. Sometimes I don’t need it, but sometimes therapy was heavy and I do need it. Sometimes that’s going to a library or bookstore. Sometimes it’s sitting outside. Sometimes it’s walking the dogs. Maybe you can’t take the whole day off work but maybe you can take one hour after therapy to do that.