Seek a Therapist BEFORE You Experience a Meltdown
Just the way you don’t have to be ready for the ER to schedule a check up, you also don’t have to be in the midst of a meltdown or completely overwhelmed by life to make an appointment with a therapist.
Psychotherapy, just like certain medical check-ups, is a course of action intended to prevent disease or meltdowns. By getting good therapy and creating a relationship with a therapist before everything hits the fan, you take your emotional pulse and allow yourself to create a trusting therapeutic relationship, so that when something unexpected shows up you have a safe haven in which to process it.
I know how easy it is to wait until things feel unmanageable to call for help. It’s certainly not the best approach. It has taken me many years to understand how beneficial and supportive it is to call a therapist before things feel overwhelming and scary.
Don’t Let Money be the Deciding Factor to Seek Help
Even if you have insurance, therapy usually requires an outlay of some money. At times, that can feel like an extra stress. Exactly what you don’t need. Yet, it may be the best money you ever spend.
I remember many years ago, during my divorce from a long marriage, and very concerned about my financial situation, I consciously chose to get the help that sustained me through an incredibly difficult period. I had never done anything like that before and was already in my mid-50s. I had always waited until I theoretically had one foot over the bridge before asking for help. Part of me wishes I had done things differently and another part of me, thankfully, is very accepting of exactly how I did what I did when I did it.
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Prepare Your Safe Haven
By creating an open, safe relationship with a therapist before a meltdown, you ensure, as best as you can of course, that someone you already trust will be there for you when you need them. Of course, if things are going extremely smoothly you may want to wait. However, if you’re already navigating life’s potholes I would suggest calling someone sooner.
Keep in mind, you may not find someone with the first phone call. I called four people before I found someone I wanted to work with. Trust your gut. If you talk to someone on the phone for 15 minutes and you feel confident that you could relate well to them, make an appointment. If at the end of that first session you don’t feel really comfortable and confident in their ability to get who you really are and be as supportive and honest with you as possible, don’t go back. Most therapists will be happy to spend a few minutes with you on the phone before you book an appointment. Think of three of the most important things you’re looking for in this new relationship and prepare some questions.
Sometimes, it takes more than one session to realize that someone may not be the best fit for you. Listen to your body‘s reactions.
- How do you feel when you talk with this person?
- Do you feel heard, understood, validated, respected, and, yes, really cared for?
- Do you get the sense their values align with yours?
- Is the space safe and comfortable? While that’s not necessary, it can be helpful. If you’re physically in their office.
- Do you get the sense they have the necessary compassion, experience and training to help with your particular issues?
Ultimately, it comes down to your Spidey-Sense. Without even parsing through the answers to those questions, how do you feel in this person’s presence? You know what it feels like when you’re heard and cared for. That’s the minimum requirement for a good relationship with a therapist. But it’s not enough. To truly help you, I believe, they also need training and experience. The more the better.
Seek Help Through a Crisis Hotline if Needed
We are living in especially stressful times and a meltdown is most likely just a matter of time. If you’re reading this and you don’t have insurance or the funds to pay for therapy, calling a crisis hotline can be incredibly beneficial. Sharing your concerns with another human being who will carefully listen and respond with kindness, can be a true balm to your heart, mind and soul. If you’re not comfortable with that, perhaps there is a clergy person you feel comfortable talking to. As much as it’s wonderful to have a friend, relative or partner with whom to share your deepest thoughts and feelings, it’s a completely different experience to talk to someone neutral.
As a holistic psychotherapist, I have a very strong belief that almost everyone can benefit from good therapy. The opportunity to hash things out, unburden yourself, and connect with someone whose sole purpose is to help you is a gift beyond description. Find a Therapist.
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