My first experience with a licensed therapist was not a pleasant one. I was already feeling insecure for asking for help and felt intimidated having to talk to a stranger about my feelings. I remember being in the waiting room, looking around, wondering if this was a mistake. Thinking to myself why can't I just "snap out of it." The more I waited, the more negative thoughts flooded my mind, making me self-doubt this decision of going to therapy.
I anxiously reminded myself that something has to give in order for me to feel better and therapy was my only option at the time. As I was called into the room, I've never felt so embarrassed hearing my name out loud. I shrugged my shoulders as I walked towards the door. Wondering if all my friends and family knew that I was walking into a therapist's office. Thinking that maybe I accidentally checked-in on social media and now the whole world knows that I have "issues."
As I walked into the therapist's office, I quickly looked around trying to find common ground with this stranger. I saw certifications and awards hanging from the wall, lots of books that I've never read on bookshelves, and multiple Kleenex boxes in the room. I started to feel even more uncomfortable like I hope she wouldn't try to make me cry if I'm not wanting to cry. I also felt very intimidated by this really smart person, who must have been doing really well for herself by the amount of certificates, degrees, and awards she's earned. I started to feel myself sweat and fingers getting clammy, wondering if she was too smart for me and wouldn't be able to relate to my world.
I was also distracted trying to orient myself to the room. The therapist welcomed me in and asked me to take a seat. I never felt more relief to sit down because I felt like my knees were about to give out from all my anxiety. I quickly tried to sit down on a random chair like I knew what I was doing in therapy. As I looked up at the therapist, she seemed warm and inviting. She was wearing glasses and adjusted them on her face when I was looking up at her. She was much older than me, probably the same age as my mom or slightly younger. For a moment, I felt better, knowing that she might comfort me like a mother would and tell me that everything will be okay.
The therapist began the session by providing education on her therapy methods, policies, and confidentiality. I remembered wondering if she will have to go over all these details in every session because it felt pretty overwhelming. I was ready for the attention to finally be on me. Like where are my 50 minutes that I'm paying for? I was ready to scream out loud that "I'm not okay!" After all the policies and procedures were completed, my signatures on dotted lines, the space was given to me to tell her why I came in for therapy.
When I started to tell her about my struggles, I couldn't help but be preoccupied by her body language. I felt like she was looking up and down at me. Not in a way to get the full picture of me but in a judgmental way. I remember her paying close attention to my shoes, bag, and the way I was dressed. It was like she was taking a mental note of my style like she wanted to eventually copy it. I started to second guess myself and felt like what I was saying held no value. Maybe I was overreacting to my circumstance and I should just shut up.
I paused to catch my breath, hoping to get feedback from her, and then she replied back to me by saying, "you are just too pretty to be having these problems." Words from my first therapist.
I still try and let those words sink in but everything in me rejects those words! I never felt so invalidated, especially by a certified clinician. Isn't that the first thing they learn in therapy school, validation?
I quickly wanted to run out of her office and hide under my covers forever. I just can't believe that I shared all my feelings with this stranger and all that I received back is that I'm too pretty! I don't understand.
With my journey of trying to find the right therapist, I want to admit that it has not been easy. Therapists are humans and they will make mistakes, they will be insensitive, and they might not always say things perfectly. I do advocate for myself and encourage others to do the same to continue searching for the right therapist until you find one that feels right. There is nothing wrong with firing your therapist and searching for a new therapist.
I became a Life Coach not to bash therapy but to open the space to have real conversations and real connections. Life coaching allows me to guide people in a open way to meet their needs and goals. Yes, there will be policies in place and a coaching framework to go by, but life coaching can be more authentic than some therapy methods.
Keeping an open mind to life coaching and therapy is ideal. I can also relate to you if you've been jaded by therapy and wonder if you will ever find the right therapist.
I am accepting new clients right now so please check out my website for more details on life coaching opportunities with me! Also, please send your feedback of your experiences with therapy and/or life coaching, I would love to hear them!