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People Who Have Seen A Therapist, What Do You Wish You Understood About Therapy Sooner?

Maybe you wish you knew more about finding a therapist or about how you'd feel after each session.

Hi, there! I'm Victoria. When I was 19, I decided to go to therapy. It involved a lot of trial and error β€” I finally clicked with the third therapist I saw who took me a year to find β€” and there were times when I stopped going altogether because I was so discouraged and exhausted.

Illustrated drawing of therapist and patient talking together
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Now, having experienced it, I can more clearly identify things I wish I knew before I started and that I try to share with my friends whenever they ask me about therapy. So I ask you, fellow therapy-goers, what do you wish you knew about therapy before you started going?

Like I said before, I saw three therapists before finding the one I liked. I actually saw my first two therapists in pretty quick succession. After those two negative encounters, it took me another year before trying again. In retrospect, I wish I knew finding a therapist was similar to dating rather than taking each experience so personally β€” especially to the point where I was too discouraged to try another therapist.

illustrated outline of two people's heads overlapping
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Another thing: I wish I'd realized earlier that I'd feel more comfortable opening up to a therapist who shared a similar gender and cultural identity to me. I knew I preferred a woman as my therapist, but I hadn't considered a woman who shared my race. Was that a challenge you faced, too?

illustrated image of a woman pouring water into a pot that holds the plant of the flower she's sitting in
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Did you realize how much you enjoyed your sessions? While some sessions are more intense than others, I found myself really looking forward to my sessions, especially as I got to really trust my therapist. Conversely, did you wish you realized therapy 'hangovers' are a thing after an emotionally draining session?

illustrated image of a person in web therapy
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Maybe you wish you knew something more logistical. For example, I hadn't done any research into types of therapy, so when my therapist said she practiced CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), I didn't bat an eye. In retrospect, her approach and CBT really worked for me.

illustrated image of a woman hugging her knees with a swirl above her head depicting her mental health
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Or, did you realize you prefer in-person, phone, or video therapy? When I switched from in-person to phone therapy, I realized how much I preferred in-person β€” and having a private, designated space in which to speak freely and face to face. However, I've also heard online therapy is great if you can't find a therapist locally or feel safer in your own space.

illustration of web therapy with a woman "sitting" in a computer while another sits in a chair outside the computer
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Perhaps you wish you knew how (much) you'd grow in therapy, or how even the more uncomfortable sessions helped. Maybe you didn't realize how much control you'd have in each session, where you could speak freely vs. being interrogated or defensive (especially on others' behalf).

Young woman talking with a psychologist, vector flat illustration
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I'm sure you and I have different experiences, so whatever it is you wish you knew prior to starting β€” whether similar to one of the examples above or not β€” please share in the comments below. It can help people who are still intimidated or exhausted by the process feel better about taking another step forward.

If you prefer to respond anonymously β€” totally hear you β€” please submit your response in this anonymous form. You could be featured in an upcoming BuzzFeed Community post!