How to Find a Good Therapist + My Traumatic Experience

Updated: Mar 8

Therapy and Mental Health

I have always been a huge advocate of therapy. If anyone is going through a hard time and mentions even a glimmer of desire to talk to someone about it, I always offer my opinion (if asked for). Personally, I think everyone should do at least one full year of therapy in their adulthood.

We carry so much baggage from our childhood. It just is what it is. Regardless if it’s generational, familial, from being bullied in school, denying our truth, etc. We all have baggage, period.

I started seeing a therapist when I was 22 years old. It was something I denied since the age of 16 since I did NOT want to be psychoanalyzed by someone.

I was very against someone intrusively asking me questions about how I feel or what has happened in my life since I personally don’t like to feel emotions or talk about them.

Therapy is a real struggle for me.

When it finally became apparent that I needed some type of help, therapy was the last result but it took me a very long time to find someone who I felt truly wanted to help me.

Searching for the Right Therapist

There were so many fucking assessments when trying to find a therapist, I felt like I was back in middle school or high school trying to graduate.

Multiple choice, long paragraph answers, word problems, the anxiety kicked in.

It seemed so unnecessary.

After about three or four therapists, I finally found one in a time of need that I felt I could really open up and trust. I did just that.

I saw this therapist for about two or three years and I saw her every week while texting her or calling her in between if I needed it.

In all honesty, I didn’t feel like she was that helpful. She would always tell me things we were going to work on and try to help rewire my brain but it never would happen, but being able to talk to someone and get reassurance about how I felt made me feel better. It gave me clarity.

She was outside of my insurance because Kaiser sucks, but to me, it was worth the $400.00 a month because I couldn’t keep living in the state I was in.

We would talk about everything I was feeling, especially during pregnancy, and I was able to leave there feeling like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.

Therapy was a Compulsion

What I didn’t realize until months after deciding to stop going, was that therapy became a compulsion to my OCD.

If you want to know more about OCD, please click here.

If not, here’s a quick crash course in OCD…

When someone has OCD, they have irrational fears and intrusive thoughts regarding things that are typically

  1. A. irrational duh or

  2. B. altruistic.

The nervous system in the brain is on red alert and puts the person in extreme fight or flight mode. They are being alerted of immediate danger when one doesn’t exist. In order to “turn the alarm off” they/we perform compulsions. These compulsions can include turning the lights on and off a certain amount of times to prevent an earthquake, checking the lock on the door a certain amount of times to make sure you did it correctly the first time, washing your hands excessively if you have a fear of germs…The list goes on and gets darker and darker.

Therapy became a compulsion to my OCD about being a shit person. That’s about as real as it gets. I had no self-worth and no confidence in my ability to be a functioning human and my compulsion was reassurance seeking. If I wasn’t at therapy getting reassurance from my therapist, I was seeking it from Google, books, etc.

Looking back on it now, I genuinely think she knew this and kept our sessions going because of it. I’m sure she meant well, but instead of teaching me the tools to manage my mental health on my own, I became dependent on my therapist.

When the Weak Become Pawns

She started to turn me against my family telling me that I needed to be alone and independent, she broke confidentiality agreements, and ultimately singled me out with those around me.

She got me to a place of mentally isolating myself from everyone in my corner, probably so I would realize I needed her to help me since I had no one else.

As my mental health deteriorated after childbirth, my OCD kicked into high gear and I thought I was going to be put on a 51/50 hold.

I actually think I asked for it at the hospital too but they were like “Nah, you’re actually fine and this is normal”. They just suggested I go back on my medication and use another medication as needed in times of extreme panic attacks.

After going to the hospital in regards to a lack of attention on postpartum mental health, which you can read about here, I immediately booked an appointment with my therapist.

When I got there, I broke down and was in total distress.

Instead of helping, she started to push a very intensive and intrusive form of therapy to quickly and efficiently find the root of my suffering. I expressed it wasn’t something I was interested in which led her to begin feeding into my fears and feeding into my lack of memory.

*There are some articles that explore (yet have not confirmed or denied) what I know to be true for me, prolonged use of medication has caused significant long-term memory loss for me. I don’t remember a lot of my life, quite honestly. Because of this, it gave my therapist the perfect formula to further my suffering. (Again, there is no evidence [that I have been able to find in my short research] to confirm or deny that this is true.)*

She started to encourage my irrational fears surrounding my mental health issues and my ability to be a mom and she started to insert her own twisted dialogue of why I was suffering in what I can only assume was job security for her.

It felt like if she got me to hit my breaking point, for the second time that evening, I would surrender to more therapy which meant more time and money for her. What I came to realize was she used a lot of her personal issues and inserted them as my own, which I caught on to.

When she realized I wasn’t going to opt in for that form of therapy, she then decided to push an out-patient program on me that she was associated with.

She knew my insurance wouldn’t cover it, but still pressed it on me. It included 3 days a week at 5+ hours a day going from all of these different types of methods and services like neurofeedback.

I have heard great things about neurofeedback, but I’m not sure how I went from needing one 40-minute session a week to unload my stress to needing 15 hours a week of intensive outpatient care.

It was a really fucking weird time and it took a MASSIVE toll on me. I already have a really hard time trusting people and this was the icing on the cake.

Finding the Right Help

After this situation it had made me very wary of going back to therapy.

At times when I get into a place of potentially needing some help, I do my own form of therapy which includes boxing, dancing, meditation, essential oils, CBD, and anything else I can do to help me avoid seeking out a new therapist and going through the endless appointments of them trying to figure out my 12 years of mental health struggles.

(I will say that I have used some of the hotlines and online therapists and they are amazing.)

Like with every industry, you have good and you have bad. Unfortunately I had a bad experience and I got sucked into the dependency of it. Instead of biting the bullet and seeking out new help and going through the process again earlier on, I stuck with a professional I knew probably wasn’t the best fit out of convenience.

With quarantine and the pandemic being so heavy and amplifying EVERY emotion and conflict and situation, it’s seriously important to do what you need to do to say afloat.

There are numerous therapists who are incredible and there are numerous online options available as well, if typing and texting is more your vibe. I have a great list of apps here that can also provide relief and assistance: The 7 Best Apps for Mental Health.

I share this experience not to deter anyone from seeking help or illicit fear. Quite the opposite. I want you to be very selective with who you trust in aiding your mental.

Do your due-diligence when trusting someone with your life stories.

Check their ratings, get referrals, do a consultation in person, and be sure to ASK QUESTIONS.

Ask how they work with their patients, what the process of therapy looks like for them, and how they like to help.

Be sure to ask about how long they usually see their patients for as well because therapy is supposed to be a temporary means if possible. Sometimes it’s not and that is FINE, but if it can be temporary, that is the goal.

Therapy should give you the tools to go off on your own and manage effectively.

So with that, here are some resources to help you find a therapists that meets your needs and can be valued and trusted:

  1. Better Help

  2. Help Pro

  3. Psychology Today

  4. Talkspace

  5. Therapy Den

  6. GoodTherapy

  7. American Psychologist Association

  8. Find A Psychologist

  9. Local Google Searches

  10. Referrals from friends and family members

  11. If you’re in crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK

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how to find a good therapist