Maybe you should talk to someone
Starting therapy can be quite the decision to make, especially if you’ve never done it before. Whilst (thankfully) we have come a long way with regards how mental health is perceived and managed in Australia, for some people the stigma around mental health remains. Reaching out for help is never a sign of weakness, sometimes we all need someone else to help us work though our ‘stuff’. Maybe you have had a complicated family experience of mental health which creates additional fears and barriers. But when IS the right time to start working with a therapist?
There are some generalisations around when you might need that unique, safe space to explore some of what I generally call the ‘funky’ parts of life:
- When you’re struggling to regulate your emotions – whether that’s sadness, anxiety, anger, fear
- When you’re not performing as well at work (or school) – if you’re struggling with your memory, concentration, or not being able to get in flow at work
- If your sleep or appetite patterns have changed – more or less
- Your social life is taking a hit
- You’ve experienced trauma
- You don’t enjoy the activities that you usually do
- You are grieving – might not be confined to the death of a person, might be in the case of divorce, loss of identity, job or significant relationship
- Your physical health has taken a hit – physical health conditions are intricately linked to mental health and trauma
- You have an unhealthy relationship to alcohol, drugs, food, shopping – or your reliance on any one substance / person / activity is significantly out of balance
- You want to improve yourself, but you really don’t know where to start
So, what are the drawbacks? Well, it can be a pretty vulnerable and raw experience opening up to a complete stranger. Though I promise we try to make it the whole experience as comfortable as possible it can sometimes be really tough to share deeply painful or shame-filled experiences. It’s also hard to learn new ways of being, being challenged to approach elements of our lives differently, applying newly-learned skills and strategies. It’s especially hard if we’ve struggled with therapy in the past, haven’t felt validated in our experiences, or we don’t have other people around us supporting us in this brave endeavour.
Finding the right person who works with the best modality for you and what you’re hoping to navigate in therapy is also critical. Whilst there some aspects of therapy that are universal (confidentiality for example) we all do things a little differently and we all have different forms of therapy that we work with. It’s really important that you feel comfortable with the person that you’re choosing to work with – even if it’s someone that you’ve been recommended to see by a friend or GP – we know that the relationship between the client and the therapist is the single-most important factor determining a positive outcome to therapy.
Lastly, cost can be a significant barrier to accessing therapy. Unfortunately, we don’t have a great solution for funding good quality, consistent therapy in Australia. Whilst the ‘Better Access to Mental Health’ model does cover a limited number of rebateable sessions under Medicare, there is still an out-of-pocket fee to pay. Medicare rebates only apply to psychologists and psychiatrists, not to Psychotherapists and Counsellors and it requires a referral from a GP, and some form of mental health diagnosis, which is not always necessary nor appropriate.
It probably goes without saying that I’m a huge fan of good therapy. I think that bad therapy though, can cause all sorts of unhelpful issues so if you don’t feel heard, seen or validated during your sessions then, as exhausting as it is, it might be time to find a new therapist. I am a firm believer that my clients are every bit the expert as I am in the room. I might be the expert in therapy but my clients are the expert in themselves.
If it’s time for you to talk to someone, we have a team of therapists at Thea Baker Wellbeing, please reach out to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org / 03 9077 8194.