Taking the leap into therapy

After a tricky 8 months, I knew I needed some help to keep me on the straight and narrow. I’ve mentioned on my blog in the past that I was going to look into venturing back into therapy, but the actual concept was so daunting for me so I kept putting it off – until today!

So a couple of weeks ago, I spent some time googling some therapists in my area to find some that may be suitable for me. I’d made the decision to access private therapy for a few reasons, but the main one being that I really didn’t want to wait. I understand I’m fortunate that I’m in a position to do so, but my view is also that I’m not taking a space up for someone who’s needs it more than I do.

I’d found a few, so sent them all an email to see what the availability was, and one in particular stood out. She is a doctor of psychotherapy and her website resonated well with me, and although it was expensive I decided to accept the invitation to an assessment.

My first question was ‘how can I prepare?’ and her response was ‘think about what you want to get out of it?’.

What did I want to get out of it? I wasn’t really sure. I thought about it for the week leading up to the assessment and my conclusion was this: I know I’ll probably always have anxiety. What I want to do is learn to live with it for a good quality of life’.

Not too much to ask I don’t think?

The day rolled round and the alarm was buzzing to wake me up. I didn’t feel at all nervous (and I had just been dreaming about grilled halloumi, don’t ask), so I got myself dressed and off I went. My girlfriend was kind enough to come with me to offer some support.

I got there and although the anxiety was creeping in, it was oddly subdued, because I knew this was my choice, I was paying and felt a lot more in control. The lady came down, greeted me and off to the therapy room we went.

What I don’t get is why the rooms aren’t made more comfortable? This was basically a desk, two chairs and a big paper towel on a physio bed. A comfy sofa, a couple of throws and a picture on the wall wouldn’t have gone a miss.

The assessment was straight forward and very non judgemental. She asked questions about my anxiety, previous therapy, growing up, specific issues I was trouble with and next steps.

After opening up to a complete stranger for an hour, then came the advice.

First, she was surprised I’d remembered the tools from CBT. Apparently these are often forgotten but she was impressed I’d remembered in this way. Second, and because of this, she recommended ACT, a new kind of therapy that uses mindfulness. I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about it, but from how it was described it sounds like I’ll learn to live with the anxiety, and break down the snowballing fear of anxious feelings which will then reduce anxiety overall.

I’m no expert, I have a book to read and a video to watch, but it did make sense – it felt like she knew where the gap was and how she can fill it. It was decided that this would be taught over 4 sessions, with monthly ‘booster/support’ sessions to just keep me ticking over and keep everything on track.

So, here’s to next Friday – my first session. I’m actually looking forward to it. If this works, it could be exactly what I need to finally feel in control of my anxiety.

I’ll be documenting my progress through the therapy, explaining what happens and how I cope with it, hopefully to show people contemplating therapy that there really is nothing to be cautious about.

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