Nicole from Writes Like a Girl recently wrote a post on how to find a therapist in the US, and I highly recommend giving her post a read. I thought I’d like to write a British version.
I’ve had quite a stressful week. I moved house, went on an amazing date with someone I know through my job, but it turned sour when he messaged me the next day asking if I wanted a threesome, and I woke on Monday morning to find that my little sister had been taken into hospital overnight, all alone because dad’s on holiday.
Sometimes I find life just too much to cope with. So I see a therapist.
I first sought one out nearly two years ago. When I get stressed or if something is on my mind, I sleepwalk pretty badly, and at the time it was getting to the point of me walking around my room 3-4 times a week, meaning I was constantly tired. Right now, I have a fist-sized bruise on my leg and a healing cut on my forehead from my nighttime adventures.
I knew next to nothing about therapy when I set out. I initially tried to reach out to charities like Relate but they were still very expensive for sessions and there was something a little off about the emails they were replying to me with… a little patronising? It didn’t seem the right path.
Looking to the internet, I found the Counselling Directory, a list of counsellors and therapists qualified in the UK. You can easily put in your postcode and set the parameters to search for someone – but the choice can be quite daunting.
The profile for each therapist is clearly laid out, listing their qualifications, specialist areas, types of therapy that they deal with and their fee. Sometimes they’ll give you a half price first session.
I think that finding a good match with a therapist is kind of like going on dates – you might have to go on a couple before you find the right one. My first therapist wasn’t a good match. Her house smelt too much like “old lady” and her style was the kind that didn’t give feedback, just asked how I felt about things. I realised that I really need it to be a two way conversation.
Before I came back to Cambridge, I had a lovely therapist who did “walk and talk” sessions where we’d walk around a park. She was also very good, but unfortunately, I moved back.
My current therapist is the perfect fit. When I say that I feel horrible that a guy would treat me like that, she doesn’t waste time with the “oh, but you’re pretty and nice”, she gives meaningful feedback and words of wisdom. If I say “this is a thing that I did” she feels comfortable enough to tell me if I was in the wrong.
My therapist uses, psychodynamic psychotherapy, meaning that she’ll relate how I am now and how I feel now to things that happened when I was growing up. For my sleepwalking, her knowledge of the subconscious is really important.
If you’d like to look into different styles of therapy before you start, here’s a good list with explanations.
Once you have found a therapist on the list that you like, you can send them a quick message with as much or as little information as you feel comfortable with – if I remember rightly, I wrote about my sleep walking and how my life has lots of dramatic things happening all the time, and that I just needed someone to talk to. Since therapists quite often come with good people-skills, they know how to respond and can take it from there.
Therapy is expensive. As an adult, it’s difficult to find cheaper ways (there are online platforms, if that is your kind of thing). As much as I love the NHS, I have known them to say to friends that they are “not suicidal enough” to qualify for free therapy.
If you’re under 25, or under 18, there are lots of options for free therapy – but these tend to be local, so I can’t give you links. Googling “mental health for young people” with your location is a good place to start. Most places will be able to help you for free until you are 19, some going up to 25.
Even though it’s expensive, it’s a necessary thing for me. To have an hour a month where I can just let it all out and get feedback is really helpful for me. I don’t need to worry about if I’m hogging the conversation, it’s just time for me.
I always set out to be honest on this blog, so if you have questions (as long as they’re not too personal!) I’d be happy to answer them. I hope this has helped people out there!