Therapy is well known for offering an outside perspective, but it also offers catharsis through a third party. Family and friends often feel too close. It’s easy to convince yourself they’re frustrated, easy to feel like they’re forced to live through the pain with you.
A therapist, on the other hand, is a professional relationship. It’s her job to listen, to be invested, and to help. And at the same time, it is still very much a relationship — she is engaging with a very personal part of your self. It’s important to find a good match.
Still, there can be a learning curve to feeling comfortable confiding in someone who starts out as a stranger. More than anything else, the success of your first session with a therapist is about how you feel. You will go through the motions of explaining why you came, what you’ve been through. You try to make them understand you right off the bat. You may mess up what you’re trying to say, and that’s okay. You won’t get through everything on that first day, but establishing a comfortable space to share is the first step.
“I could tell,” Caitlin said of her first visit at Northwestern Medicine, over a year and a half ago. “I got such good feelings from my therapist. I was already a lot more comfortable. She seemed very compassionate and nonjudgmental and all the things you want out of a therapist. I walked out more hopeful than I walked in.”
“The progress that I’ve made is clear,” Caitlin continued. Through Northwestern Medicine, she met with a therapist who helped her form healthy emotional health habits and a psychiatrist who worked with her to find the right balance of medication. “My team helped me develop my own ways of coping with anxiety attacks, of lifting myself out of depressive episodes. I feel much more capable of handling the things that come at me.”