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29 Things No One Ever Tells You About Being In Therapy

Starting with: It's the best/worst thing ever.

We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us what people never tell you about what it's like to be in therapy. Here’s what they said:

1. You shouldn't feel guilty about talking about yourself.

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It took me three weeks to start opening up and not feeling guilty about that. But once I did, It helped in making me believe that I am worthy and I deserve to receive help. And that it's completely okay. It helped me realize that I matter, too.

—Serena Kazmi, Facebook

2. It's best to go to therapy before you hit rock bottom.

3. It might take a sec to find the right therapist.

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It's so important to know that the first therapist you visit might not be the right fit. Don't settle for someone if it doesn't feel right. You can meet with a couple different therapists before committing. It's worth exploring multiple options.

—Olivia Rice, Facebook

4. And once you do find the right one, don't worry if it takes some time to connect with them.

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It took me multiple sessions before I clicked with my therapist. I'm really glad I didn't give up and gave it time.


5. Sometimes the first appointment is more of a get-to-know-you session.

Dan Pizarro / / Via

You won't get into your problem right off, they need to get all of the general information out of the way before they can address anything too substantial.

—Tricia Ange, Facebook

6. Other times you jump right in and the first session is a toughie.

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You open up to this complete stranger, constantly fearing that they're going to tell you that your problems are stupid and why the hell did you come in the first place? But once you finish that first session and you didn't get kicked out, it's so much easier to go back. You can stop feeling stupid for being depressed, and that right there is the first step to recovering.

—Gillian Brownlee, Facebook

7. Therapy could be the most important thing you do for self care.

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It was the most important thing I've ever done to take care of myself. It may be scary but spilling your guts until you feel better is fucking rad.

—Brooklynn Ramos

8. In fact, therapy is for everyone.

I would recommend therapy to every single person on this planet. Think about it this way: You're going to be you for as long as you live, so why wouldn't you try to find out everything about yourself? Why wouldn't you try to become your very best self? Because once you learn the skills to cope with your own emotions, you'll utilize that forever. It's the best thing you can do for yourself. Seriously.

—Maike Suzanne Hirst, Facebook

9. Therapy is not a magical fix.

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It takes commitment to the skill-building exercises, hard work, dedication, and willingness to be self aware. No amount of therapy is going to make everything all better if you aren't willing or ready to dive fully into it.

—Melissa Shadden, Facebook

10. So prepare for it to take a while to feel progress. / Via

Don't expect all of your problems to be solved at once, and if so, try not to blame your therapist. Or yourself. It's a long process.

—Eliza Letteney, Facebook

11. It's weirdly freeing to be so open and honest with a stranger.

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I thought it would be difficult to open up about my problems with my therapist, but it was actually easier to talk to him about anxiety and depression than my parents or friends. A therapist isn't going to judge you or avoid you because of what you tell them; it's their job to help you deal with these things.

—Bronwyn Reeve, Facebook

12. Some sessions are exhausting. / Via Instagram: @jessgeno

Therapy can be emotionally and physically exhausting, especially when you cover tough topics. On the days I have appointments, I've learned to make sure I have time to recuperate afterwards.

—Nellinda Grace Sage

13. Sometimes your therapist will piss you off.

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—Cynthia Hinckley

14. And you might actually be frustrated by the lack of concrete answers.

Al Boardman / / Via

Be prepared to be frustrated. Sometimes you will feel like you are getting nowhere, that you only come back to treat the same issues that just reappear in other situations. "I DON'T CARE ABOUT WHERE MY ISSUE COMES FROM, GIVE ME SOME ACTUAL TOOLS SO I CAN MAKE IT DISAPPEAR," you'll want to scream at your therapist. This is normal. But you ARE making progress (unless your therapist is shit, then I recommend getting another one).

—Anne Sophie Cornelius, Facebook

15. Just because therapists aren't always right doesn't mean they're always wrong either.

Therapists aren't always right, and they don't know everything. This doesn't mean you should dismiss them (in general) completely.

—Jenny Finster, Facebook

16. Sometimes you get homework. / Via Instagram: @fatinflats

I used to think therapy was ridiculous because one hour per week could not be enough to help, but it's way more than that.

In my experience, each session ended with something to work on. Sometimes it was writing in a journal every night. Sometimes it was saying kind things to myself every day. Whatever it was, there was a clear task. It made me feel like I could be productive in between sessions.

—Mackenzie Maxwell Haney, Facebook

17. Maybe don't wear mascara to a session.

It's OK to cry your feelings out; it helps. Also, going without mascara is helpful. Know that you are ready to accept that the tears will be there.

18. Being in therapy is about small changes taking place over time.

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In my case there was no big grand Hollywood-style breakthrough where you cry for an hour and after that it's all let the sunshine in. The change was small and almost unnoticeable, but about a year later, I started to realize that I was doing better.

—Fernanda Eisendecher, Facebook

19. Even after you've been in therapy a while you'll still hit rough patches with it.

You WILL still have moments where you stumble and feel like you've gained nothing and are right back at square one. It's OK. It happens to everyone. That's what's supposed to happen. If your journey isn't full of emotional potholes, then you'll never get better at picking yourself back up again. Therapy gives you the tools to do just that.

—Michelle Cabral, Facebook

20. Therapy gives you a safe space where you can try to understand traumatic events.

If you've been through a lot of trauma, therapy will be like re-living it over and over again but in a safe environment and with a person you trust. You will also gain a lot of insight from connections that you make about past trauma, behaviors, and thoughts.

—Chenoa Summer, Facebook

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21. Therapy might teach you how to help your friends. / Via Instagram: @nameless_dcrew

I was in therapy due to an eating disorder for three years. One unexpected benefit (other than recovery) is that I learned how to help other people the way my therapists helped me.

—Cheyenne Plaster, Facebook

22. Therapy is like finally sitting down to read the autobiography you've been writing your whole life. / Via Instagram: @shitstorm_allie

Going to therapy for the first time is like writing and writing nonstop for your whole life, and finally sitting down to read it all out loud. It makes you cringe, and smile, and cry. You start to find out how to read as you go, so you're always connected with your life as the book you are writing.


23. Group therapy can make you feel less alone. / Via

In college, I went to group therapy after I lost my dad. It was extremely comforting being able to open up and connect with strangers. I could be completely open and honest about my feelings. We all had different experiences of losing a loved one, yet we all had very real similarities that made me feel not alone in my grief.


24. And btw, a therapist's age or gender might play a role in how comfortable you feel with them. / Via Instagram: @sobasicicanteven

I wish I would have known therapists come in all shapes and sizes, and that their age and/or gender can really determine if you'll open up to them. I found myself feeling judged by female therapists (I had no reason to feel this way) but with older male therapists I felt as though I was speaking to my grandfather, and that was comforting!


25. Therapy can help you learn new ways to think. / Via Instagram: @peterclaussen

I was surprised that my therapist didn't just listen to me, she actually helped me think differently. I am a different person than I was before not because she listened to me and then told me what I wanted to hear (which is what previous therapists did) but because she listened and then taught me tools to make better decisions and cope.


26. There are low-cost options.

Most insurance providers do not cover mental health care. Don't be discouraged by the cost. There are many therapists who provide low-cost options, most universities provide free counseling, and so do a lot of churches, religious organizations, and communities.


27. Oftentimes things will feel worse before they feel better.

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When you spend most of your life coping with stuff by ignoring it and bottling it up, actually addressing your issues is ROUGH. You will feel super shitty and think about quitting, because it would be easier.

But there's a light at the end of the tunnel, and it's better to learn to address stuff as it happens (because then you can deal with it, rather than ignoring it and suddenly bursting into tears at a totally inappropriate and/or inconvenient moment months or years later.)


28. Therapy might help you be more open with other people in your life.

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No one ever told me how drastically therapy would change my life in the best ways. I never expected that after talking to a therapist about certain things I would be ready to open up about those things to other people in my life, as well. It's really strengthened my communication and, as a result, my relationships with the people most important to me.

Billy Lorusso

29. Needing to go back to therapy — or stay in it for a while — is not failing.

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Needing to stay in therapy for a long time, or get back into therapy after trying time without, isn't failing. For a long time, I thought winning against my abuser was getting out of therapy and being able to live "normally," and tried to do without, when that was actually allowing him to continue having power over me. From then on, winning became about fighting for myself and doing whatever I needed to take care of myself and love myself better, and therapy is a key part of that for me.

—Katarina Gene Spungen, Facebook

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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