A lesson about therapy for my younger self…and you

In college, I had a repetitive stress injury that prevented me from playing my flute. A year later, an ear infection caused me to go deaf in my right ear.

In addition to seeing medical doctors, I went to see a therapist.

At the time, my relationship with my family was a mess. No one had any boundaries, no one had conflict resolution skills, and I was the family scapegoat.

The therapist’s assessment was that I was handling things well, which wasn’t accurate or useful (though that may or may not have had anything to do with my physical issues). Coming from a home of significant duress, I would have been well-served by more than just the few sessions we met before declaring I was fine.

For several years after graduation, I had some serious issues with suicidality and finally went to see a therapist.

Her assessment was that I was handling things well, which is astounding to me, as I didn’t keep the suicidality a secret. Same outcome as the previous: in the right hands, I could have had different outcomes in many parts of my life.

A chunk of years after moving to Arizona, I went back to therapy, and he was phenomenal. A lot of time, money, and tears later, I had worked through some heavy baggage—stuff that I could have worked through with someone in college, or after college, if they’d been better at their jobs.

It’s possible that those ladies were better at dealing with other specific issues. For example, my fabulous therapist, who walked me through all sorts of family-of-origin issues, wasn’t that great for me when I returned later with acute immediate issues. If they would have been better in more specific domains, they should specialize. If not, they should better their skills or change careers.

Not too often does someone say, “I’m feeling good and things are going pretty well, but I’m going to get a therapist just because.” People look for a therapist when they’re feeling vulnerable. Between availability and insurance or other cost-related barriers, it can be a struggle to find someone. And if that someone isn’t great, it’s easy to either stay with them because you’re already with them or quit altogether and not try again, like I did. Twice.

I’m here to encourage you, to give you a lesson I wish I could give my younger self. if that’s been your struggle, please keep looking. Try out others. Not everyone is great at their job. And not everyone who is great is necessarily a good fit. Ultimately, you’re still two people in a relationship, and you need to jive. Just like not all doctors or teachers or anythingers are a good fit, even if they’re good at what they do.

It might take a couple of tries, and it’s exhausting to have to start over, especially if it’s not your first time starting over. 

It’s worth it. You’re worth it. Your future self can’t express their gratitude enough.

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