Therapy and that First Visit

The first time you visit a therapist is arguably one of the scariest things I've had to go through in the past few years.  The reality is it's a huge necessary first step on the road to recovery. If that person is a licensed therapist, your general physician, a psychiatrist or a psychologist it can be a nerve wracking ordeal. I wanted to take a moment to describe my take away from my meeting with my therapist and hopefully help folks understand what to expect so that the first step isn't as daunting.


Be up front and honest about why you're there.  I wracked my head for days trying to figure out how to tell a therapist that my marriage was basically done and I know I wasn't handling it well. Situations will be different for everyone but a responsible therapist will hear you out and want to hear about your history. It might be painful, it might have you sobbing the first day, especially as you relive past pain but getting it out there helps.


Don't let yourself get caught up in the diagnosis.  Even I fail at this from time to time given my college days. You could sit there and Google WebMD, the DSM 7 and a billion blogs and you'll get everything under the sun about dysthymia, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety etc.  It's ok to hear out your therapist or health provider in terms of what they feel you may be classified as but don't let that define you. While it's a small thing, I had to shake myself out of saying "I'm a depression sufferer" to "I'm something living with depression".  It's a subtle difference but for me it reminds me to try to focus away from letting my clinical diagnosis frame who I am and understanding it's a part of my life and I'm trying to find ways of dealing with. How you deal with it can vary from just talk therapy, medication to a range of other forms of treatments. It might seems silly at first and your provider might have you try multiple things.  Don't dismiss them out of hand but be willing to provide feedback about what you feel is and isn't working for you.  By working I don't mean expect suddenly for the entire world to be clear and happy. It's a slow change but be honest.  If the side effects of medication are severe, let them know, if meditation isn't quite your thing change it up, try exercise therapy, art therapy. As hard as it is to hear there's no magic bullet, it's going to be trial and error and trying to find out what works for you.



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