Therapy is the best way to find your way to yourself!
It’s been 16 years since my first therapy session. I was the client then. I remember the anxiety that was coursing through my body nestling in my stomach and throat when I knocked on my therapist’s door… and then, a warm smile and an invitation to make myself comfortable.
But I’m going too fast. Let me start from the beginning.
It wasn’t my decision to go into therapy, I was nudged by a wise friend. Even so, I had this feeling, the certainty that I needed this. I was a psychology student searching for an answer to a question I didn't even know.
For years I was avoiding a place in my mind where ”monsters lived”, monsters like crippling anxiety, overthinking everything, low self-esteem, no idea who I was, the need to let others tell me what I want or what is good for me, and even worse who I am allowed to be.
I tried to figure things out rationally by becoming a psychologist. I still remember one of my professors making a joke that 90% of the students who chose to study psychology do this to solve their problems… I laughed but it was a sad, ‘I know what you mean’ laugh.
To find a therapist I first asked around then did my own research and finally, I decided to go with my instincts. I knew I wanted someone older than me and a woman therapist because I thought I will feel more comfortable and that she will have more life experience than me. Later I learned that these things do not really matter, that is just the rational mind trying to control the anxiety around change. What I’ve learned over the years is that the therapeutic alliance is the most important factor: if I can trust you, be honest, open, and feel safe with you, healing will happen.
I made the call. The therapist was nice and warm over the phone and we made an appointment for the following week. I kept overthinking my decision, I almost convinced myself that I don’t really need therapy now and I should postpone this for another year when I am more ready, more something.... I am grateful to my friends who didn’t indulge my anxious self-talk and gently guided me to my therapist’s door.
My therapist smiled, invited me in, and asked me to make myself comfortable. She inquired if I had therapy before and then explained confidentiality, the rules about attendance, and making payments.
While I was listening to her, I was also studying her: the way she spoke, sat, looked at me, asked questions. She seemed confident, self-assured, strong but also warm and holding. I liked her, actually, let me be honest, I wanted to be her.
I started telling my story from the middle, as you do. She listened and asked clarifying questions from time to time.
Before I knew it, the session was over. We agreed to meet every week for the foreseeable future. I had a place and time that was just mine, just for me. It seemed like such an indulgence.
While I was leaving, I remember thinking that therapy didn’t seem so bad.
We met for about a year and it was hard and it wasn’t. I understood, reflected, grew and I changed a little and then a lot.
It was the first time in my life when I was invited and encouraged to ask: What about me?