MY EXPERIENCES WITH THERAPISTS
Just like each individual is a unique combination of intelligence, love, sass, and experience, the same goes for therapists. Below I’ll share my experience with the 4 therapists I have visited throughout my life. What I liked about them, what I didn’t, and the major lessons learnt with each individual.
My First Therapist
My very first therapist in my experiences with therapists was part of the LGBTQ+ community. She was a tough old broad and she'd seen a lot of crap. She worked in Toronto during the AIDS outbreak during the '80s and '90s and she told me that someone in their community was dying every day, if not more.
What I liked about her: I loved working with her because she made me feel normal. She would talk to me about her experiences with anxiety, codependency, and depression. She shared her experiences with me, allowing me to feel like I wasn’t alone. I helped me to realize that others had overcome similar, yet totally different situations as I had been through. She also had some pretty great tattoos.
What I disliked about her: I stopped going to her because she had very different views of what addiction was. She gave me ultimatums that made me feel very, very uncomfortable and didn’t align with what I believed to help addiction. In other words, she put her beliefs onto me. It made me feel like I wasn’t being listened to and that my opinion wasn’t being valued. It almost felt like I had a parent who was scolding me for being different than them. So I left.
The Most Valuable Lesson Learned: She helped me confront my father about a massive secret he lied to me about for around 5 years. It kept me stuck in a vicious cycle of codependent relationships and affected my confidence and self-worth. Doing this turned my life around. I will never forget her for this.
My Second Therapist
My second therapist in my experiences with therapists is still my favorite therapist so far. She and I worked together during the most intense year of my life where I had no idea that I was operating in a state of high-functioning depression and anxiety. I didn't shower for like two weeks so you'd think I would know; apparently, I didn't.
What I liked about her: She was a new therapist. She was so new that she was still in the early stages of her practicum which meant that not only was she hella affordable. She also was full of fresh and new ideas to help me combat my anxiety. Her personality complimented mine well at the time.
What I didn’t like about her: Honestly, nothing. I stopped seeing her because I moved across the country. I knew that I benefited most from seeing someone in person. Therefore I chose that option.
The Most Valuable Lesson Learned: I went to her because I had all this information in my head and what I needed to do to feel better. I couldn't put it into action. I knew I needed to create schedules and routines and reframe my thought process so I wasn't always in a state of negativity. Yet I found it so hard to actually commit to doing. This ineptitude was slowly eating away at me and creating some very not-nice thoughts going on in my head. She was able to help me get into a place of action through cognitive behavioral therapy (commonly referred to as CBT), she helped me take control of my life. She did this through her tough love, Type-A personality that really jived with who I was at the time of seeing her.
My Third Therapist
Since I moved across the country and had to give up my favorite therapist I set out to find a therapist that worked with my ideas. Let me tell you, moving from Ontario to Nova Scotia smacked me in the face when I attempted to find help. There are really not that many practitioners available, and many of the ones that are available cost A LOT of money. No wonder my home province has such a high rate of depression and suicide.
What I liked about her: This therapist was wonderful. She specialized in sex workers, which, if you don't know, I am a former sex worker. We were able to talk about certain elements of my trauma that other therapists didn't feel qualified to talk about in-depth.
What I didn’t like about her: The problem was that at this point I was pretty dang knowledgeable. I knew I wanted to go back to school to become a counselor/therapist and being addicted to learning meant I knew a lot about CBT, psychoanalysis, and many of the different modalities of counselling/therapy. It ended up feeling like I just paid her to be my friend and that was one expensive friend in my experiences with therapists.
The Most Valuable Lesson Learned: That becoming a counsellor was something that I was meant to do with my life.
My Fourth Therapist
Now, I only went to her once. Not because she was a bad therapist. It's actually because the world shut down for quarantine after our first session. I haven't been back to her because I know what I want, and I don't want to meet via Zoom. I need to see my therapist in person and have that exchange of energy that you just can't get over the internet.
What I liked about her: She was the first counsellor who viewed healing in an almost identical way (which is a focus on natural remedies vs medically enhanced ones). This allowed me to open up in a much more vulnerable way that I hadn’t been able to do before in my experiences with therapists.
What I didn’t like about her: Again, I only saw her once so I can’t really say. She spoke a little too softly for me?
The Most Valuable Lesson Learned: For everyone who deals with anxiety, you know the importance of grounding when you’re stuck up in your head. She reminded me to remind myself to drop back into my body when I feel anxious. Here’s an exercise she taught me, heads up: you’ll need a partner for it.
THOSE WERE MY EXPERIENCES WITH THERAPISTS
Therapy and therapists are not one size fits all. You’ll find you get along with some therapists and others you just don’t feel comfortable with. You’ll also watch as your relationship to them changes as you unpack more and more parts of yourself and your psyche. These examples are strictly my experiences, and they may or may not look like yours. Your experiences with therapists will look entirely different.
The important thing to remember is that just like any relationship, your relationship with your counsellor/therapist is an integral one to your healing. Make sure you have the right fit and don’t feel pressured to stay with someone if they go against core morals.
This blog was inspired by this TikTok post.