If you’ve never had therapy before, it can be a daunting and overwhelming task to know where to look or even what information you should know before finding a therapist. It can be frustrating that there are some extra steps to think about before getting started. I guarantee that it will make the process much smoother, and more empowering at narrowing down your needs.
I often speak to potential clients and hear, “I’ve never thought of that”, “I didn’t think of asking those questions”, “Wow, that would be helpful to know”, or “Oh, I should really find that out before I start” repeatedly. Once, you have the steps to follow, getting started is not that daunting and you’ve already been proactive in taking care of you.
This article will give mindful steps to reduce anxiety as you search, build resiliency, and supporting your self-advocacy in beginning your therapy journey.
3 Key Steps to Start your Journey
1. Cost & Budget
Therapy costs money just as a chiropractor, physiotherapist or some services that doctors provide in private care. So, figuring out a budget is important as this can help you narrow down and build a criteria for searching for a therapist. On average, majority of clients need an average of 12-15 sessions to reach their goals, to establish new habits, and develop the lifestyle changes you want to see. Since every client moves at their own pace, some people need shorter or longer time to reach their goals, it varies. So, it’s important to ask your potential therapist how many sessions you may need to treat the things you are attending therapy for.
I often hear people say, “I’ll be in therapy forever” which, is completely untrue. It takes time to implement new things and shift perspectives but it’s not forever, and not as long as you may think. Therapists don’t want you to need us forever. We create treatment plans to help you reach your goals and don’t prolong therapy just for the sake of it. There should be a purpose and medical necessity for being in therapy.
We want to ensure you can get unstuck, dealing with the family stuff, needing to set boundaries, reducing anxiety, cope with a new diagnosis or pain management, and deal with the situations you are in. Therapy isn’t a rant or vent session. It demands authentic inner work to evoke the changes you want to see in your life. Thus, there is a level of vulnerability and risk in trying new things which, is why trust and moving at your own pace is so important to the therapeutic work.
2. Extended Healthcare Benefits - Insurance Coverage
It’s important to research and explore your Extended Healthcare Benefits Plans. Many people have access to their Benefits with plans through their employers, associations, parents, partners, or personal individual coverage. Here are very important questions to ask your insurance provider:
- What is covered in my plan?
- How much coverage do I have in a year?
- Are there any exclusionary list or de-listed businesses?
- Are there any conditions I should be aware of for receiving Psychotherapy Services?
- I have Social Work Services can I swap it for Psychotherapy Services?
More insurance companies are acknowledging the value and importance of mental health. There are more options available to you. Having a good understanding of what’s available, gives you relief and greater confidence as you start your journey. Sometimes people find the therapist they want to work with, and the insurance company has specific conditions or requirements, that are unforeseen. Being proactive helps you to narrow your focus and search within the criteria if there are any.
Not everyone has access to Extended Healthcare Benefits which in turn forms a financial barrier. If this is you, then finding a therapist with a low-cost service or sliding scale options makes therapy more accessible. Check out this next article on Choosing a Therapist: Finding the Best Fit. I mention options on where to find low-cost and affordable therapy.
3. Therapy is a Process…It Takes Time
Many people when they start therapy want changes to happen right away! So, it can be frustrating to hear the therapy takes time. Therapy is a relationship between the therapist and client. At the core is trust, and our job is to earn your trust to help you move forward one step at a time. It is our responsibility as a therapist to co-create a safe space to talk, explore patterns, and apply new skills at a reasonable pace.
Therapists evaluate and aim to address the immediate issues that are impacting you right now. By doing small steps to shift behaviours or deepening your awareness to develop a safe therapeutic relationship. When we have safety and safeguards in place, we minimize the risks of harm. Every person can trust at different levels and speeds so therapy is truly moving at your own pace that is comfortable to you. The process of change and transformation takes place when you feel safe, there is an increase in self-awareness, and viewing all options available through a new perspective. We get unstuck by trying new ways to move through the world and witnessing that change comes from within but not alone.
“Healing isn’t a linear process, its messy and goes in all directions”
Therapists are here to help you learn to live in your context. We’ll help you find new ways to heal, cope better, and improve the quality of life for whatever you are going through. Eventually, you’ll gather all that you need for this time in your life and end therapy once you’ve reached your goals or feel better.
If you find that you aren’t making progress through the therapy work that you are doing, or it’s just not working out for you, it may be a time for a different therapist with a fresh approach!
When you find that great fit and compatibility in a therapist, you’ll find that you reach your goals and reap the benefits of therapy. When people reach their goals and feel better about themselves, then taking a break can be helpful. Apply the skills you’ve learned on your own and see if there are new things brought into your awareness that you’d like to work on. If you ever need to come back when things aren’t fine, or you need help to work on some unfinished business, we will be here to help you! Most times clients who have had a great relationship and learned what they needed no longer need therapy because things have changed, and they’ve grown.
I hope this article and tips from a therapist who answers these questions regularly provides you with a great place to start. Taking one step at a time towards healing.
If you enjoyed my approach and want to start your therapy journey with me, please reach out and book a free discovery call.