April is Stress Awareness Month. But, probably like you, I’m aware of my stress in ALL the months. And while we may want to seek help coping with our stress, finding the right therapist can be a challenge.
Recently, an Ohio State football player decided to leave his beloved sport because of his severe stress, anxiety, and depression. He grew tired of pretending that life was great, and that pretending nearly cost him his life. He had to make choices in his journey to taking care of himself, and the biggest choice was to say he needed help. Not for his plays on the field, but for his life outside the stadium.
Asking for help and then seeking out that help are two of the hardest, yet biggest steps in healing. Sometimes, we feel like failures for not being able to “fix” our lives on our own. We don’t know where to go or how to find the best fit. We are scared that it will not help. So, in this Stress Awareness Month, stop and think how we can complete this hard, yet remarkable step in finding the right therapist to help us get back in the real. Here are three tips in beginning your journey.
Take Your Time Finding the Right Therapist
Read reviews. Talk on the phone first. Get a feel for the fit. Research what therapies would best fit your needs and what local counselors/therapists teach those skills. If you don’t feel right when you meet one, you have every right to stop and look elsewhere. One therapist constantly looked at the clock during our session. I felt like a bother. We can’t afford that bothersome feeling when we are trying to eradicate it from our daily lives. You know when it works because you’ll feel lighter after leaving. And if you don’t, it’s okay to cut ties and try again.
Go Where You Feel Safe
Finding the right therapist is more than just the person you are talking to in a session. Pay attention to the office setting and the staff. You are going there for your mental well-being. Maybe it’s the colors, the layout, or the vibe. Look around and see if this place is one where you can learn how to deal with your stressors. If you don’t FEEL safe and secure, move on.
Do the (Home) Work
Find someone who encourages you to put in the work. Listen. Hear the suggestions. Do the homework too! I often leave with writing assignments or conversations she wants me to have. It’s scary, but that’s part of the process. I recently asked my counselor if I’d ever be “cured” or “graduate” from therapy. She simply said it’s up to me. Anxiety and stress aren’t going to disappear; life is just too much. But, when you DO the work, it ALL will work. Go check in here and there or go every week. Just try it, hear them, and learn.
Being a mom plus all our other roles is stressful from January to December. April doesn’t have to be the time when you fully see all the stress that occurs in our lives. However, we can use April as a time dedicated to finding the right therapist. What if someone else can help? What if their objectivity and expertise can reshape my thoughts? What if therapy WORKS?
These tips for finding the right therapist are just the beginning. My prayer is if you are pretending, you find ways to stop and be IN your life – not faking the emotions as you go through the day.
We all deserve to be present. And, there might be that one person out there for you who is waiting to help.