We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us everything they wanted to know about therapy.
We boiled down everything you asked into key questions that came up again and again, and then we reached out to three mental health professionals to get some answers. Here's who we talked to:
• Ryan Howes, PhD, clinical psychologist and professor at Fuller Graduate School of Psychology
• Loren Soeiro, PhD, licensed clinical psychologist
• Dr. Barbara Nosal, chief clinical officer at Newport Academy, treatment centers for teens struggling with mental health issues, eating disorders, and substance abuse
Keep in mind that these are the professional opinions and observations of three practicing therapists, and while their opinions are definitely informed by their experience, they don't speak for all therapists.
1. Is therapy like it is in the movies?
2. What the fuck they are writing about me?! I've always wanted to know what they're hiding!
3. What does a typical first session look like?
4. What can a therapist do about anxiety? How are they supposed to rid me of my fear of people?
5. How do therapists cope with all the heavy information they hear day after day?
6. How long do I have to be in therapy?
7. Do I have to talk the whole time? What if I just want to cry?
8. Can someone without a mental illness still benefit from therapy?
9. How do you know if you should start seeing a therapist? Are there any strong signs that indicate that therapy would be a good idea?
10. As a therapist, how do you not pass judgment on your patients?
11. How do you know if a therapist is a good fit for you?
12. Does the therapist usually offer a prompt or am I supposed to come in knowing what I want to talk about?
13. What could therapy do for me that I don't get out of talking with friends and family?
14. How will we know if a therapist actually cares about you?
15. Is there such a thing as full recovery for eating disorders? I feel like every time I make any progress I lapse. And I can never imagine a life without it.
16. What happens if you say you've thought about suicide? Can you have a reasonable talk about it or do they report you immediately? And who do you get reported to?
17. If I freak out (pull my hair and hit my head and pace around) in front of my therapist, could I get thrown in the hospital for inpatient?
18. OK, but will therapy actually help?
Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
By the way, if you’re feeling curious about therapy yourself, you can learn more about how to start here, since pretty much everyone can benefit from talking to a professional. For more information on free and affordable mental health care options, check out this guide.