This post aims to give you a general idea of what going to therapy is like. Maybe you’re in a bad place right now with your anxiety or depression and are thinking of going to therapy. Perhaps you’ve been referred and you’re not sure what to expect. Or maybe you’re just curious. Whatever the reason, it’s all good, you’re all welcome here.
When you think of therapy, what do you think of?
For me (probably from too many American TV shows), my mind instantly goes to a big room with a Chaise longue (yes, I did have to the check the correct name and spelling on Google!) with the therapist sat in a big armchair with a clipboard in their hands asking now and then, ‘And how does that make you feel?’ And the poor person is there, sat on the floor, rocking back and forth.
Well, for me it wasn’t like that. Both of my therapy experiences were different but had some similarities. For example, they never had a clipboard or asked me, ‘How does that make you feel?’ And they definitely didn’t have a Chaise longue. Probably a good thing really because as soon as I lay down I fall asleep. It’s a gift, please don’t hate me!
As I’ve said in the title, this is just my experience of therapy and both times it was CBT (Cognitive behavioural therapy).
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. It’s most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems.Taken from the NHS website on CBT
So let’s get into it……
When I had therapy back in 2016 I paid for private sessions. Unfortunately, iTalk had a long waiting list at the time which I was unwilling to wait for. So I Googled local therapists and found one I liked. Back then it was £40 for a 50-minute session and I would have weekly appointments. Yes, it did add up but at the end of the day, what’s more important, having spending money in your bank or looking after your mental health?
As iTalk is offered via the NHS this is a free-of-charge service, which I think is absolutely brilliant. Therapy is expensive, so the fact that the NHS offers this service free of charge is great. It also makes me happy because it shows that the NHS sees mental health just as important as physical health.
When I was under the care of iTalk, I had a 6-week course as they counted my Knowing Me, Knowing You (aha) group as part of my therapy program. Knowing Me, Knowing You (I talk about this in my post Oh, it’s you again) ran for 7 weeks. Again, as I said above, I think it’s incredible that these free-of-charge programs run. And as they are so busy they have had to start running extra Knowing Me, Knowing you groups which goes to show just how much these are needed.
When I paid for private therapy, I went once a week from March/April until August.
I’ll admit it, when I first walked into my therapist’s office back in 2016 I expected to walk out after a few weeks fully cured and not have a care in the world. Therapy doesn’t work like that, unfortunately. You need to think of mental health like you would physical health. Compare it to working out with a Personal Trainer. You go each week, work out and get stronger. They give you the encouragement and tools that you need but it’s up to you to do the work. However, as soon as you stop those exercises, eventually, you’ll be back where you started. That’s what working on your mental health is like. You can’t expect to have results without doing the work.
For your therapy to work you need to be open and honest, otherwise, what is the point in going? Equally though, if you don’t want to talk about it that week, you don’t have to. That space where you have your therapy each week is a safe place. A good therapist should be able to get you to open up without you feeling uncomfortable. If you’re not happy or comfortable with your therapist, see if you can move to a different one, otherwise, you’re not going to get the results that you deserve.
You get out of therapy what you put in. The first time I went to therapy I would do my weekly homework and I put everything into practice. The second time I went to therapy everything was a bit different. Probably because my sessions were during the day and I had to take Baby J with me. But honestly, just talking out loud to someone helps so much and you end up realising and discovering things about yourself that you wouldn’t have found out otherwise.
This depends on where you go and who you see. For example, with my first therapy experience, the room was small but cosy, with some art on the wall, a big window, and a box of tissues and a glass of water on the table.
With iTalk, the room was a bit more ‘office-y’ but still welcoming with a window and table with plants and tissues.
Again, this really does depend on who you go to. With my first therapist, she would sit opposite me and it felt like we were just having a chat. She never used a clipboard or took notes, but she somehow would always remember everything from the week before.
With iTalk, we would sit at her desk and we would chat and she would take notes and use her laptop. If baby J played up through our sessions she would be so good with him and would pick him up and interact with him.
Both ladies I saw were so friendly and welcoming, and even if our appointments ran over time slightly I was never made to feel rushed out of the door. I always felt like I could say anything to them and not be judged.
This would really depend on how the session went. Mostly I would walk out with my mind full of everything that we just discussed, but then on the drive home I would feel like a weight has been lifted and I would be in such a good mood. Other times I would walk out and my head would be full and that feeling would stay with me for a while. I would also feel quite tired. Discussing your innermost thoughts can be very tiring.
Going to therapy has made me realise things about myself that I wouldn’t have otherwise found out. It has made me realise just how strong I actually am. It has given me tools that I still find helpful and use now. For anyone who isn’t sure about therapy, I would always 100% recommend it, as it helped me and maybe it can help you too. It isn’t a sign of weakness, having therapy. It actually takes a lot of strength to admit that you’re struggling and need a bit of support. Going to therapy, you have to face your fears, but it’s done in a controlled and structured way. Therapy can be for anyone, anxiety, depression, stress, or maybe you’re just struggling a bit in general. They will never make you feel silly or that your problem is too small. Only you can decide if it’s right for you though.
I hope you have found this post helpful and that I have answered any questions that you have. If there is anything at all that I haven’t covered, please do feel free to leave me a comment, send me an email, or reach out on Instagram or Facebook and I’ll be happy to answer any questions that you have! ☺️