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  • H.M. Jackson

Finding the Right Therapist - It's Like Online Dating

Finding a therapist to work with is hard. If you think about it, it’s similar to online dating. You have a list of names, you look them up, read a bit about them, and then schedule an appointment - which is essentially signing up for a blind date to see if it’s a match. It can be so difficult to find a therapist that you ‘jive’ with, and not only that, it can be discouraging when you meet with a few that you do not connect with.

Think about it, we are expected to meet with a stranger and dump years of pent up trauma on the table to see if they can help. For me, I had been to therapy a few times on and off over the years. I never truly stuck it out, I’d usually go to a therapist for a few appointments, find I don’t connect, struggle to open up, and often feel like I am not taking anything away from the appointments, so then - I’d just quit. In 2020, I had finally got to the point within myself where I had committed to going, and seeing it through. However, enter Covid - and that was that. The office had switched to doing some telehealth, but I didn’t feel like telehealth appointments were productive for me. I have a hard time talking in session, how am I supposed to do this over a computer screen? So of course, I quit yet again. In 2022, I got back on the horse, (with the push of my doctor) and decided it was time to start therapy. But this time, really do it.

At this time, my primary care doctor’s office had just brought in an in-house therapist. I decided to see her first. After our first session, she said “I think you need to see a therapist that specializes in childhood trauma, and EMDR therapy. I can see you to talk about the stress of everyday life, but you need something different to address your childhood.” Let me tell you, if you didn’t already feel like you were too messed up, hearing that will do it. This therapist was extremely nice, and I appreciated that she recognized that she wouldn’t be able to provide what I truly needed.

So here I am, finally scheduled with an in-take appointment to start therapy. I did my intake appointment, and was matched up with a therapist, Leigh after. Leigh is definitely the therapist that changed the game for me at first. She is the first therapist I ever had where I truly felt like therapy could make a difference. It was the first time I actually felt like I connected with my therapist, and I was honest from the start and told her “I normally quit after a few sessions.” I remember her saying her goal for me was to not quit this time. Truthfully, I had the same goal. I didn’t want to be stuck dealing with unresolved issues 20 years from now.

I had been seeing Leigh for therapy for about two months, when she dropped a bomb on me one session. She told me she was moving out of state. Leigh told me her plan to transfer me to her work bestie, and she assured me I would think she’s awesome. I have to be honest, I did not believe her. I never had a therapist I connected with. I was surprised I even liked Leigh and hadn’t quit already. I didn’t think I would get lucky again. But, I was wrong. Leigh was right, I was in good hands with my new therapist, Mandy. She’s a fantastic therapist, and she’s able to help me grasp so many items I never thought were possible. She’s a therapist that teaches you the skills, and how to apply them in a way that makes sense to you. That was the groundbreaking part for me.

Here I am 18 months later, still going to therapy, twice a week, and it gets better - I actually take away the skills I’m taught and use them all the time. Using what I learn in therapy in my everyday life, is one of the best items. Especially, because previous skills I learned didn't help and I didn’t feel they were applicable. My point is don’t be afraid to keep searching for the right therapist. One that you connect with, and trust. One that specializes in the area of therapy you need. When you have the right therapist, I think it does make all the difference. I would have bet against myself last year if someone asked me if I would stick out going to therapy and look - here I am still going.

⎻ H.M. Jackson

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