Last week, I wrote about how I knew it was time for me to see a therapist again. Also last week, I started the search. Ready to hear how it’s going so far? Hint: Not quickly.
I started by doing what I tell other people to do when they ask my advice on finding the right therapist: I perused Psychology Today. I based my search mostly on instinct (does this therapist seem like the right fit?) but also on a few general requirements: I want to work with someone who has more experience than I do, who specializes in trauma (bonus points for EMDR training), and who sees clients in person. I sent three identical emails to three separate therapists in my area. I also called one of the therapists and got her voicemail, which was full. Dead end. It took about twenty minutes, all said and done.
That same week, I went to dinner with a new friend who is also a psychologist, and mentioned to her that I was looking for a therapist. When I asked if she had any referrals, she said everyone has waitlists a mile long and wished me luck.
Fast forward a few days and, with no responses from any of the therapists I’d emailed, I went back to Psychology Today. I sent six more emails to six additional therapists, using the same guideposts to choose who I reached out to. The next morning, I received two email replies – progress! Except they both said thank you for your inquiry, my practice is currently full. One suggested I ask again in October and neither provided any referrals.
The same morning, I got two phone calls from two other therapists I’d emailed. Both want to talk on the phone before scheduling a session (this is something I’d asked for in my initial email). One also texted to schedule a time to talk. Hello, actual progress.
That was yesterday. With six meetings and family demands, I didn’t return their calls, and today is just as busy. The next steps are pretty clear: Call those two therapists back tomorrow, and if one or both seems good, schedule a session or two. I’m hoping to start seeing a therapist soon (as in, not October), so scheduling and availability may come into play as a deciding factor. I’m also not sure either accepts my insurance, so price is a consideration, too.
Okay – now that we’re caught up on the plot, let’s talk about the emotions of all of this.
FEAR: I will never not be nervous to show up to therapy. It is so vulnerable, so tender, and so revealing. Being a therapist myself creates a weird catch-22; I want to be open and raw, but I’m also keenly aware of how competitive and judgmental some in the field can be. I like to think I can pick a therapist who doesn’t lead with that, but I also know there’s no guarantee. Part of the fear, too, is concern I’ll be reported if the therapist thinks I’m somehow working unethically. With suicidality, there is always a fear of an overzealous mandated reporter involving authorities prematurely, and it doubles up when I myself am working with vulnerable populations.
RESISTANCE: I don’t want to do this. I’m willing to do it, I know it’s the right thing, I’m ready to show up, but at the end of the day, I don’t want to spend extra time and energy on my mental health. I want to just be mentally healthy. I want to feel like I did before the pandemic, before my move, before the smoky days and dark winter and lonely year. I want to feel like myself again, in a way that is both infuriating and motivating. There’s part of me that wants to throw a tantrum, rewind the last 18 months, and protest how unfair this all is.
HOPE: I believe in therapy. I believe in miracles. I believe in the resilience of the human spirit, of my human spirit. I have faith, hope, belief in the next 18 months even in the wake of the last. I’ve witnessed too much transformation to deny the possibility and likelihood of my own healing and growth. In the best moments during this search for a therapist, I feel almost excited, a little bit grateful, and very curious about what this will all end up meaning in the end.
Stay tuned for another progress report next week, and cross your fingers for me. I can use all the support I can get. Thank you, as always, for being here.
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