Running my eyes over the flashing blue-red ambulance lights through my window, accompanied by fading in and fading out siren every 10 minutes past midnight, was something I’d become accustomed to. This was maybe the hundredth night in a row when sleep just refused to come to me as easy as breathing, as if my lungs were tied down with the weight of five heavy bricks, my body being shoved on a treadmill and told to run as fast as I can without having my own legs give up on me.
That’s how I felt, but with sleep.
There were days when I’d slip into slumber without giving a second look to my bed, and there were days when I couldn’t until I had memorized and dissected every single thread pattern that was used to weave my blanket until I’d looked at the ceiling long enough to remember all the spots where rain damage made the paint chip off. Lately, it had been the latter.
It might’ve been two years too late, but I was finally whipping out Google and typing ‘Therapists near me’ dead in the middle of the night, probably one hour short from when the birds start chirping again.
Being queer, my previous experience had left me sceptical around the entire concept of therapy. If you’ve gathered enough courage to finally talk to someone about the whirlwind of thoughts running through your head about your sexuality, and you are met with the typical ‘it is just a phase’, the question arises as to how do we as complex human beings find the right therapist for ourselves?
How Does Therapy Work?
Therapy is the process of having a one on one discussion with a professional in order to find ways and solutions to improve any situation you might be in, be it work, relationships, family, or your overall mental being. It helps us move in a direction that enhances our way of living, promotes healthy behavior, and gives us a nudge to pull ourselves out of any gyrating spiral we might be stuck in.
Because of how sensitive the subject matter of mental health is, it’s extremely important to find the right therapist. You wouldn’t go to a general physician for a root canal, so why compromise when it comes to the chemicals in our brain?
Attempt #2, and so on
Much to my dismay, my second attempt to seek help took the same road as the first one. I immediately felt a sense of restriction, as if I couldn’t open up and talk about anything at all, which is exactly the opposite of what therapy is supposed to be.
Finding a therapist is like shopping for jeans in the women’s section; no two brands have the same size 24.
While recommendations and reviews online did help me look in the right place, I couldn’t find the right fit for myself no matter how ‘queer-friendly’ or ‘judgment-free’ they sounded. Faces were made at the mention of ‘bisexuality’, and laughs were suppressed when I talked about the possibility of questioning my gender identity as well.
It made me feel that one way in which therapy isn’t supposed to make you feel: invalidated.
When I ultimately did find the right therapist, talking my mind out finally felt like a routine necessity rather than a task. The relief that came with being able to express myself freely, without judgment and uncalled bigotry, my inhibitions just out on the table, was unmatched.
How Do I Find The Right Therapist For Myself?
Therapy is not a task but a journey and being extremely complex and unique living souls, all of us have different needs that require suitable attention to the same kind. So how do we find the right person to give us that attention?
Do your research by going through reviews and recommendations of like-minded individuals who you feel represent a certain stratum that you can relate to. This is especially for people who are trying their hand at seeking therapy for the first time.
Watch out for red flags:
According to clinical social worker and licensed psychotherapist Alisa Kamis-Brinda, an ideal therapist shouldn’t talk more than the patient. They should also not interrupt or talk over them and maintain strict doctor-patient confidentiality.
Not everyone has access to funds to go through a hit and trial process when it comes to therapy. Many therapists provide free 15-20 minutes pre-consultations over the phone. This step can help you screen out who matches your personal mental requirements and who doesn’t.
Try different approaches:
One on one therapy might not be for everyone. Many people feel better to talk with other people, sharing the same problems, present in the same room. Group therapy can act as a very helpful first step towards your journey of finding better self-enhancement methods.
Another way in which people are increasingly approaching therapy is finding online communities, and using forums like Now&Me, Vent, etc to share their unfiltered thoughts in the presence of community support. It provides them a safe space under the guise of anonymity, which can be surprisingly helpful since unloading bottled up thoughts has been proven to be a great outlet for a lighter mind.
Done in the right way and with the right approach, therapy can turn out into something that you go for not because you have to, but because it’s something you look forward to.
I mean, ask me.
The bright ambulance lights and sounds don’t continuously fade in and out anymore; they’re the reason I am finally lulled into sleep.
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