Therapy offers you the ability to change your thoughts and feelings. Any problem you have can be addressed with a therapist. And though not all problems can be solved through therapy, many emotional and cognitive problems related to life issues can be dramatically improved, whether you’re mentally ill or not. Over time, you build a relationship with your therapist that allows you to grow into a person who has more control over their life and mind and can find more peace (or even happiness) on a regular basis. Whatever you’re struggling with, therapy can improve.
A (qualified) therapist can help anyone, but it can be scary trying to find one. Some people feel like they’re in a job interview during their first session, and many people are uncomfortable for the first few sessions or more, depending on how easily you can trust other people (distrust of others is also an issue you can address in therapy). But this discomfort is temporary, and is replaced by something that is irreplaceable: one of the greatest resources you can have in the modern world.
Since there are so many different kinds of people, each with their own unique brains, there are no hard-and-fast rules for what qualities your therapist should have. Yes, every therapist must be empathetic, understanding, emotionally intelligent, and ethical. But beyond that, there is a lot of room for variation.
I recommend “blind dating” a few therapists. Getting recommendations from friends is also a great way to go about things. If you don’t have any recommendations coming your way, make appointments with multiple therapists. Three is optimal. By “blind dating” these therapists, you can get a feel for who makes you the most comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. Comparing experiences gives you a baseline for what best fits you. Like I said, no one is comfortable in their first session, so don’t expect to immediately feel like your therapist is your closest confidante. That’s a hope for future-you, not beginning-therapy-you. Of course, if you hit it off right away at your first “blind date”, keep that person! But don’t be discouraged if you don’t connect right away.
Therapists, like all people, can have a range of qualities, so you’re trying to find someone who fits your needs. Some therapists are extremely gentle and encouraging, and give you lots of praise. Some are quiet and don’t reveal much about their opinions, but ask questions to guide you to your own answers and give feedback on things you can’t figure out on your own. Some therapists will give you a lot of space to talk, and some will talk to you extensively. None of them should judge you (although people do sometimes feel judged, despite the best intentions of the therapist). You can get a therapist of whatever gender suits you, depending on how you feel about gender in your care team. The important thing is for you to find someone who you can confide in, who will listen and then guide you to the Truths you need. It all comes down to truth.
Personally, what helps me most is love being present in the room during therapy. My therapist is a professional, not a friend or lover, but she still brings human kindness to every session, which is a form of love. I feel safe with her, and can say things in front of her that I would be ashamed to say to anyone else. She has created an environment where I am free to fully express myself. I’ve been seeing her for 5 years, and she knows me so well now that I can go in with a problem and come out with a solution after one session.
Once you settle into a groove with your therapist, a world of healing will open up before you. It takes emotional work, but you’ll find that you can take almost any problem into therapy and come out with an effective solution, or at least some comforting wisdom and advice on how to proceed. You can improve your thoughts, your life problems, your relationships, your self-talk, and any mental health issues you have. Pretty much any problem you face in your thoughts or feelings can be addressed with your therapist. There is so, so, so much hope in therapy. You will be giving yourself a key to all of your untapped potential. No matter who you are or what you face, you will receive the possibility of living in way less pain than you’re in right now.
Who wouldn’t want that?