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[Jan. 17th, 2013|04:59 pm]
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[gabardinedreams]
I just got a call to set up an appointment with a counselor my doctor referred me to. I figured I couldn't afford it so I hadn't thought much about it, but apparently he's covered under my provincial health care. Which is great, yay for getting better! But now I'm having really bad anxiety about having to sit with a stranger and tell him my problems. I feel like I'll either clam up and not know what to say or talk about, or get really upset and hysterical like I do when I try to explain stuff to regular doctors.

If you've been in some form of therapy, will you tell me about it? Particularly your first visit?

dk/dc/therapy is bullcrap: What are your plans for the weekend?
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[User Picture]From: ticktockman
2013-01-18 12:35 am (UTC)

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There will probably be a set of paperwork for you to fill out regarding your personal history and family history and maybe a spot to fill in to list your goals in therapy or reason for wanting therapy. Then you get to meet the therapist and discuss your history, and talk about what therapy can do for you and why you requested it.

A lot of people are nervous in the same way you are. A lot of people write down a list of things ahead of time that they want to be sure to remember to bring up. It's absolutely okay to say "I've got notes I want to look at" or "I wrote a lot of this stuff down. I'd like you to read it before we start talking."

Or, if you're afraid to open your mouth and start talking, just hand him/her your written statement. S/he will have followup questions, no doubt.

First meeting is sort of a two-way audition. The therapist will try to get enough of your background and concerns to determine if s/he can be helpful to you, and work up a general plan or approach. You'll be trying to figure out if the therapist is somebody you can work with. Lots of people don't click with the first therapist they talk to, and end up getting help from someone else instead.

g'luck

*daha*

[User Picture]From: gabardinedreams
2013-01-18 12:46 am (UTC)

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thanks! I'm trying to be rational about it but I've always kind of silently suffered. It's been bad lately though so I'm really hoping he can help me develop some coping mechanisms.
[User Picture]From: cordelia_sue
2013-01-18 12:43 am (UTC)

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I have no advice, sorry. I hope it goes well, though.

This weekend my partner's work is having their post-holiday party. It has a gods and goddesses theme, which usually isn't my favorite theme, but we're making the most of it. I'm putting together a Medusa costume for myself, which I've wanted to do for ages. It'll double as my Halloween costume next year. Some disagree on whether Medusa was a goddess or not, but in some circles she was considered a goddess of sex and destruction. Sounds good to me. My partner is going as Anubis. We're still working on his mask. Other than that, it'll mostly be black body paint and a gold loin cloth. Lol. It should be fun.
[User Picture]From: gabardinedreams
2013-01-18 12:47 am (UTC)

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aww that sounds fun I love creative costumes but I never seem to get it together in time. you should post pictures in updates after if you're comfortable!
[User Picture]From: ragged_edges
2013-01-18 12:44 am (UTC)

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The therapist will probably ask you some questions to get you started. Just relax. Also, very rarely are therapist afraid of tears/hysterical-ness.
[User Picture]From: gabardinedreams
2013-01-18 12:48 am (UTC)

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thanks. I'm trying not to worry about it, I know he's trained to get me talking but I just feel really uncomfortable, I'm not much of a talker. but I do write a lot of my feelings out so I might take daha's suggestion and write notes or print some of my journal.
[User Picture]From: ragged_edges
2013-01-18 03:11 am (UTC)

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That's a good idea. :) Good luck.
[User Picture]From: bad_lcuk
2013-01-18 12:48 am (UTC)

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What province are you in? If it doesnt work out with them, you can generally request another counselor. Its been absolutely great for me. Ive lucked out as i get a Regional health worker (counsellor) but i also got in with someone who specifically works on what i need (anxieties, etc). make sure you are with someone who specifically focuses on what you need, if you can. I do mostly CBT and i do some other talking type stuff. First visits are a write off. The first few visits are a writeoff. You wont get far until you feel comfortable both opening up and listening to them. Its their job to make you feel comfortable with that.
[User Picture]From: gabardinedreams
2013-01-18 12:54 am (UTC)

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I'm in Alberta.
Thanks! Hopefully I like him.
[User Picture]From: bad_lcuk
2013-01-18 06:21 pm (UTC)

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Yeah, id definitely request a swap if it doesnt work out, hopefully your close to a major city.
[User Picture]From: gabardinedreams
2013-01-18 06:27 pm (UTC)

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Yeah, I'm just outside of Edmonton so if it doesn't work out I can see someone in the city. Thanks!
[User Picture]From: failstoexist
2013-01-18 01:41 am (UTC)

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I work at a therapeutic school, though I haven't been in therapy myself....honestly, yeah, some of our kids we do talk about things that we know are going to make them cry and feel crappy for an hour...but they always feel better after getting it off their chest, or expressing their feelings to the person that's bothering them, or coming up with a plan for dealing with whatever negative stuff is going on.

I'd tell the therapist that you're nervous about jumping right into it, and ask to just do some general getting to know you type stuff first, and let them know that once you're not feeling like you're with a stranger, you'll feel more comfortable talking. but honestly, isn't it easier to talk to strangers? I mean, you felt perfectly fine talking to us about how anxious you feel, and we're all strangers!
[User Picture]From: gabardinedreams
2013-01-18 03:59 am (UTC)

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Thanks! & I have social anxiety so interacting with strangers (IRL) is hard sometimes.
[User Picture]From: nynaeve_sedai
2013-01-18 02:47 am (UTC)

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When I first saw a therapist, I was terrified too. And my first one and I didn't click at all which made it worse. However, I was in such a bad place, so I ended up finding another and we did click and it has been a wonderful experience (so give a therapist a few sessions, but don't be afraid to request another). It was still hard at first.

In my experience, the therapist may ask some pointed questions, but he also let me guide the conversation - I was the one in control of the session. With my current therapist, we small talked it the first bit. Movies, television shows, that kind of thing. We just... talked. I pushed myself to open up, he didn't push me. He was patient, let me stumble through my words. A good therapist is non-judgmental. They listen, they offer insight where they can because they see multiple cases and have experience dealing with issues. The longer you stick with a therapist, the better it becomes because then they start to be able to build a baseline. My therapist telling me at the beginning of our sessions that I wasn't crazy was met by skepticism from me. Four years later, if he tells me I'm not crazy, I'm inclined to believe him.

There's no rush to do anything in therapy. Therapy takes time, so be patient with *yourself*. I used to just go with *one* thing I wanted to get off my chest - if I got nothing else off my chest, we got that one thing and I don't think I started doing that until months into our sessions.

Hold tight and deep breathe. You'll get through the anxiety and you'll find that you'll be very glad you did.
[User Picture]From: gabardinedreams
2013-01-18 04:00 am (UTC)

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Thank you so much. I'm trying my best to look forward to it and be open about it.
& I'm glad you've had such a good experience!
[User Picture]From: couturelights
2013-01-18 03:06 am (UTC)

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the first time i tried counseling, i had a triage first. i started bawling 5 mins in.

and yeah, it's really nervewracking.

the last time i had a triage, i just wrote down everything that was going on and it was a lot easier that way.
[User Picture]From: isunova
2013-01-18 07:26 am (UTC)

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When I decided I wanted to start therapy I searched through the therapists on my insurance's website for a couple days until I settled on one who seemed to be the best fit. Then I waited over a week to call her because I was so nervous. There was no answer when I called but she had an email listed and I was so dreading trying to set it up over the phone that I ended up just emailing instead. My email was really short, just asking to set up an appointment, so she emailed back asking why I wanted to go in. I expect she was looking for something like "anxiety and depression" but at the time I didn't really know how to simplify what I was feeling and I ended up writing a few paragraphs and it was so much easier that way - to have the introduction already be done before even meeting her. When I went in I was still really nervous but because that baseline was established it was easier to get started and she had a place to work from to ask questions because I'd given her the outline.

The first session is about making sure it's a good fit. He will want to find out what is bringing you in (and you don't have to go hugely into detail right from the start, therapists expect you to hold things back initially - there has to be some trust gained first and that is normal) and what you expect and want to get out of therapy. If he doesn't think he can help you, he'll tell you. But he won't judge you. And if you don't think it's a good fit, that's ok. He won't be offended and can probably recommend someone else. Your therapist has to be someone you mesh with and feel comfortable around or it's going to be too hard to open up.

I have been in therapy for I think ~5 months. It has been really helpful, but there have been some weeks that have been really difficult as well. Toward the beginning there were two weeks in a row where I spent pretty much the entire session crying. I cannot stand crying around other people but it was better with her than it would have been with any of my friends - it's not unusual to be upset or hysterical in therapy and he's not going to be annoyed or frustrated if it happens to you. It happens all the time. My therapist's garbage can literally has only used tissues in it every time I go in and she has multiple boxes of tissues staged around the room so there's one nearby no matter which piece of furniture her patients sit on. There are also a lot of times where she asks a question and there is a long silence before I reply, and she generally lets it be and gives me the time to find the words to answer. If she reads my cues that I'm holding back vs trying to phrase something, she might nudge me with another question, but she doesn't pressure me. They know it's difficult to bring to the surface everything you've been trying to hide.

The actual work of therapy - digging deep and finding things out about myself and trying to 'fix it' - is harder than I expected. But the actual talking portion, being able to open up and say what I'm actually thinking/feeling, is easier than I expected. Not easy - just not as difficult as I thought. And absolutely worth it.
[User Picture]From: gabardinedreams
2013-01-18 06:28 pm (UTC)

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Thank you for going into such depth! I'm feeling better about it now. & I'm glad it has been so helpful for you.
[User Picture]From: sylviamaris
2013-01-18 01:18 pm (UTC)

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The nice thing about talking to a therapist/counselor is that, unlike regular doctors, they're prepared for you to clam up, get nervous, cry, scream, or otherwise act other than rationally, and letting them see you do it can even help them understand you better.

I really hate that first visit, though. I always feel as though I have to sum up my entire life in six minutes, all the while justifying and explaining away any unhealthy thought patterns that have gotten me this far.