Today we hear from Allyson Byers about why she is so glad she gave her therapist a second chance after a bumpy start. Sometimes, one meeting is not enough to know, and we need a friend like Allyson had to help us give our therapist another shot.
I have something to admit: I really didn’t like my therapist when I first met her. I walked out of our first session with no intention of returning.
This was my second time giving therapy a try. The first time around, I spent a few months seeing a therapist who spent more time talking than listening. I stayed for way too long and only stopped seeing her when my insurance changed. I decided to try managing my depression and anxiety on my own. And let me tell you, that didn’t go so well.
So a few months later, I was sitting on a different couch talking to this new therapist.
I felt like everything I told her was met with judgement. I just didn’t feel comfortable and couldn’t wait for our 45-minute session to end. Afterward, I called my best friend who is also a therapist and recounted my experience. She asked why I chose to see her over the other therapists I called. I told her that I had a really great phone consultation with her and felt like she would be a good fit.
“I think you need to give her another chance. It sounds like you were projecting. You’ve been really hard on yourself for having anxiety and depression. Give it a few more sessions before you walk away,” she said.
And you know what? She was right.
I had been judging myself for having anxiety and depression. I felt weak for having these mental illnesses and was in denial about how bad things had gotten. I berated myself for not being able to handle it on my own. And as way of coping, I believed everyone else was judging me too, including this therapist.
I made an appointment for a second session, but this time, I tried to go into it with an open mind. I reminded myself of how comfortable she made me feel during our phone conversation. During the session, I tried to reframe her responses. Instead of thinking that she was judging me, I tried to remember that she was just trying to get a better sense of who I am and how I think so she can help me.
In our third session, I decided to take a bit of an emotional risk and share with her some sex issues I was dealing with. I wanted to see if I could really trust her because if I didn’t feel comfortable discussing these issues, it was a sign I needed to see someone else.
And to my surprise, she told me she is a sex therapist and has an expertise in this area. We spent the next 30 minutes really diving into these issues. I shared more than I had planned to, and she offered some really great advice. I felt like we had hit our groove and took it as a sign that I chose to see her over the other therapists I had called. I had repressed these issues for years, and they had been a major cause of my depression and anxiety.
I made a standing weekly appointment with her—I was ready to commit. I had found my therapist.
I’ve been seeing her now for almost two years now. We’ve definitely had our ups and downs, but she has helped me so much.
Thanks to her, I have come out as queer and started pelvic floor physical therapy to work through the physical pain I was experiencing during sex. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her help. I’m so glad my friend encouraged me to stick it out with her for a few sessions.
I learned that it’s important to keep an open mind when meeting with a new therapist and not just make a snap judgment.
The first couple of sessions are likely going to be a little awkward since you’re basically opening yourself up to a complete stranger. This is especially true if it’s your first time in therapy.
Spend some time reflecting after each session to really gauge how it went. I still spend 15 minutes after every appointment writing down what went well and what didn’t.
Therapy is now the highlight of my week, and I am so grateful for this woman who pushes me to be the best I can be.
My hope is that you find someone who makes you feel the same way.
Thank you, Allyson, for sharing your perspective and your writing with us. I know this piece resonates strongly with me and hope it does for all of you readers out there, too.
For those of you with questions about the early stages of therapy and when to keep trying vs. try someone new, feel free to reach out to our team any time: [email protected]
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Allyson Byers is a freelance writer who loves writing about mental health and chronic illnesses. She lives in Los Angeles with her 7-year-old rescue dog. When she's not writing, you'll find her at a comedy show or checking out LA's food scene. Read more of her writing at allysonbyers.com.