Hey friends! So today’s post is a vulnerable one, but I’m also really excited to talk about it with you. A few weeks ago, I posted an insta-story about my virtual therapy session… and I got SO MANY questions about it. Where do I go/who do I see? How did I find my therapist? What does virtual therapy mean? Do I think it’s valuable?
While I’m definitely not an expert, I’m happy to share my experience with therapy! I had been struggling with something going on in my personal life for about a year and a half, and my dear friend Kaitlin kept gently saying “I think talking to someone could help.” I would thank her for the suggestion and consider it, but then I’d start to feel better about everything and put it off, telling myself that I could manage on my own. This cycle continued until I finally realized that maybe I needed more than just self care practices like yoga and taking CBD and journaling. Maybe this could help even more.
My experience with therapy:
Over the past 6 months, there has been a lot to talk about. From the original issues I was working through when I initially set up a session, to the coronavirus pandemic, to our wedding postponements (the first and the second!), to general anxiety that has become more prominent in my adult life, to George Floyd’s death and the whole Black Lives Matter movement… there has been a LOT to process so far this year. I am lucky that I have a lot of amazing people in my life to talk to, but each one has an opinion.
I am an emotional person, and sometimes that makes people uncomfortable, leading them to intentionally or unintentionally invalidate my feelings. But therapy has been a space for me to talk to someone who doesn’t try to change my mind or judge me. She’s just there to listen and help me work through whatever I’m working through that week.
If you’re hesitant, you might be thinking “my problems aren’t that big of a deal“. Especially compared to what the Black community and those directly affected by COVID-19 are going through right now. But my weekly sessions have been such proof that nobody wins when you give in to comparative suffering and ignore your own mental health. There will always be people suffering more or dealing with harder circumstances than you. Don’t get me wrong, this is extremely important to remember so that you can maintain perspective and check your privilege – but that doesn’t mean you should push down everything that YOU are feeling or struggling with in your own life. Acknowledge it. Face it. Work through it. Come out on the other side ready to grow and learn and move forward.
Self reflection is important!
Especially right now, I think self reflection is important for EVERYONE. It’s really easy to see everything on the news and think “I’m not a part of the problem, so I have nothing to learn.” It’s also really easy to become either defensive or aggressive in debates about police brutality and systemic racism. Therapy has not only helped me confront my own bias, but it’s also helped me figure out how to navigate difficult conversations around racism, the pandemic, and politics with people I love, and find ways to be productive, even if we disagree on some things.
Okay now that you know all of that, I’ll dive into your questions!
How do you find a therapist?
I found mine on Psychology Today. All you have to do is enter your zip code and it will pull up all of the therapists near you. From there, you can filter the list down by choosing your insurance provider, which gender you prefer, any specific issues you’d like to cover, and more. Also, keep in mind that a lot of insurance companies are covering virtual sessions right now!
If you don’t have insurance, or your insurance doesn’t cover therapy, Open Path Collective is a non-profit nationwide network of mental health professionals dedicated to providing mental health care at a steeply reduced rate. I honestly wish I knew about this before I found my therapist because the prices are amazing. They also have options for both in-person and online sessions.
A few of you also said that you’ve had success with BetterHelp, which is all online. Obviously there are a lot of virtual options now with the coronavirus, but their goal has always been to make professional counseling accessible, affordable and convenient so anyone can get help any time, anywhere.
And lastly, if those resources are overwhelming to you – ask a friend! Just because I don’t want to share who I see on the internet doesn’t mean that your friend, coworker, or cousin won’t share a recommendation with you. One of the gals in my Lake Shore Lady Community Group on Facebook even suggested starting a thread about local Chicago therapists because she would share hers there. (PS. I’ll start that thread today!)
What do you think of In-Office vs. Virtual Sessions?
I have been seeing my therapist for a little over 6 months now, so switching to virtual sessions wasn’t a choice. It was just policy due to the pandemic! That being said, as long as you connect with the person you’re talking to, I don’t think it really makes a difference whether you’re there in person or not. Based on how many people you live with, it might be a really great opportunity to get some true “me-time”. I find that a private room at home is just as helpful as her office for me, though!
Anything I should know before my first session?
No! Don’t overthink it! Just go with an open mind and don’t be afraid to be really honest.
Do you go to therapy? If not, have you thought about it? I’d love to hear your experiences – either in the comments or more privately in my Facebook group!