Therapy is good. Therapy is necessary for stable mental health. Therapy should be normalized and more taxpayer funds should be used for counseling and psychological help services. On this fact, my left-leaning moderate ass is starkly liberal.
Our country is experiencing a mental health crisis this year. Unsurprisingly, the rate of young people who are seeking help for anxiety and depression has skyrocketed in 2020 and nearly a quarter of US citizens have unmet mental health needs.
No wonder the first ten counselors I called this year never picked up the phone. Busy as hell, much?
Therapists are in high demand. I want everyone to have free therapy whether they feel ‘fucked up’ or not, but the past eight months have been fucked. However, there’s a difference between talking to a therapist who truly understands you and one who does not.
I’m in my mid 20s. I stomped through my fair share of doctors and therapists before I found someone who worked.
I had a family therapist for a few months in high school with her Masters degree in Clinical Psychology who gave me life advice for general hostility and rage. You probably would be too if you’d suffered emotional suppression and abuse. But of course, please! Tell me it’s a problem with me and not with the people who are raising me.
She was a nice lady — soft and kind, with a gentle voice — but that gentle voice regurgitated religious sewage like it was her job. She spoke to me from a position that I was already biased against. I liked her. I even told her that I liked her. But I didn’t go back.
During my junior year of college, I went to a campus therapist because I was swamped with homework, exhausted, emotionally overwhelmed, and a little depressed. I was also experiencing imposter syndrome from being a white female in Computer Science at the university of Please answer the question in class if you’re an Asian male. That’s not racism. That’s just the way it was. Fucking n-1 brought me to my knees.
I needed to see someone… anyone. I was about to fail two classes and didn’t want to be a failure. I was desperate. I began seeing this 75 year old woman with wrinkles, thin rimmed glasses and a suit-jacket from the 1960s. She didn’t move from her chair much. Just having someone to listen helped and she gave me lots of worksheets to boost my confidence, but her college education was sixty years ago. She couldn’t connect with me on exam anxiety or ‘not feeling good enough.’ I passed my classes. But I didn’t go back.
Third time’s the charm?
I got a post graduation therapist. She was an attentive black woman who ran her own business, did her own finances... everything. I cried during our first session. That’s a good sign right? Wrong. I just lost it because she hit a nerve with my mother. That didn’t meant she understood or had the answers for better family relationships.
She gave me worksheets too. What is it with worksheets? Oh go ahead, push my ptsd buttons from college classes. Anyway, I tried. I really tried to work through some of my issues with her, until she began using part of our session time to work through insurance problems on the phone. I sat on her couch ladled with positive thought pillows for 10 to 20 minutes during each session while grinning Cheshire lady figured out how much I owed her. I liked her too. But I quit. Therapy should not be stress inducing.
I found my current therapist, Janel, last month in October 2020. She is the most wonderful person I have ever met. She’s kind, respectful, enlightening, empathetic, and knows the boundary between giving unsolicited advice and advising while allowing a free though process.
Before diving into any issues, she took a few sessions to understand who I was as a person, and just listen. She told me this was normal. I was normal. You don’t know how fucking badly I just needed someone to tell me I was normal. That phrase rinsed worry off my shoulders like a hot shower. And I believed her because (yes, she had a degree in Trauma Counseling) but she also simply felt like a close friend.
I will be seeing her for the next few years. How do I know? What’s so special about her compared to the others? Janel is young and in her early 30s. She’s close enough to my age that she has relatability. She gets that mid-quarter life crisis of ‘what the hell am I doing?’ What are my true goals in life? Am I failing? She understands the emotional ups and downs of dating. She understands the pressure to get married. She understands.
There are good therapists and bad therapists, but the best ones make you feel comfortable. I discovered that what made me feel the most comfortable is someone who could understand what I was going through. Maslow says right above basic primal needs, we all crave love, acceptance, and a sense of belonging. We want to be heard. A therapist who satisfies those needs will make you feel comfortable and less crazy.
A therapist may not be able to love you like a partner, but they can provide you with that acceptance and feeling of being heard. Someone close to you in age will be able to relate to your feelings about life and relationships and thus, will be able to better make you feel heard.
“A therapist close to you in age will be able to relate to your feelings about life and relationships and thus, will be able to better make you feel heard.”
Gender is another facet of how relatable someone feels to you. I have only ever had female therapists. I love hanging out with men and am terrible at forming friendships with women (I’m also bi and sexually attracted to a few of my girl friends which doesn’t help ❤). Still, I’m a bit deprived of female interaction and so talking with a female therapist is one way I can get more of that ‘womanly time.’
Women understand the struggles other women face. If I wanted to talk about masturbation or having a vaginal orgasm with a partner, a male or male identified therapist will listen but may not understand. It is crucial to have a counselor in your life who has the ability to both listen and truly understand the problems you’re dealing with.
It is crucial to have a counselor in your life who has the ability to both listen and truly understand the problems you’re dealing with.
Get yourself a therapist who’s close in age to you.
Get yourself a therapist of the same gender.
Get yourself a therapist who you find relatable.
They should not only hear you with their ears, but understand and make you feel heard in return. Honey, you could be the most normal ass person with zero issues. You still deserve this.