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Advice for first therapy?

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by Engdood1, Sep 6, 2021.

  1. Engdood1

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    I have booked a therapy session to discuss my confusion around my sexual orientation and wondered if anyone had any advice? Are there any good questions to ask, or perhaps things to look for in a good therapist? Thank you.
     
  2. chicodeoro

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    How much are they charging? (Obvious, I know..)
     
  3. Lemony

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    A few. They need to be present like your session is the only thing on their mind at that time. You can normally tell when it’s not.

    Obviously no judgment. Ask how often you can see them. If they talk little or too much. You need them to talk but not at you, you need to guide them.
     
  4. Peterpangirl

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    Do you feel comfortable with them? Do you feel truly seen/ heard and valued for who you are, right now, in all your confusion? A good therapist should use any questions sparingly but skillfully to help you move forward at your own pace. They should help you to clarify your feelings and uncover your own truths, without passing judgement.
     
  5. Chip

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    I have come to believe that finding a good therapist isn't easy. I managed to luck into three excellent ones over the years, but I've talked to many people, and firsthand read comments from a large number of therapists that made it clear they were absolutely terrible. Some were so bad they scared people away from therapy.

    So the first thing is, ask about approach and theoretical orientation. You don't want someone who is a "one trick pony." As in... someone who only (or mostly) does narrative therapy, CBT, ACT, Jungian (rare) is probably not going to be a big help in the long run. The best therapist may have a primary theoretical orientation but is eclectic and trained in a number of different approaches and isn't wed to any one theoretical orientation.

    Also, you don't want someone who gives advice or tells you what to do, or even who spends much time answering your questions about yourself. The best therapists will turn the questions back on you and invite you to look inside yourself to see what answers come from within. They may reframe perceptions, offer different perspectives, or suggest possibilities, but they should never, ever impose a belief or be directive. And they should stay out of judgment (shockingly, this isn't as common or obvious as you would think.) In the best sessions, on average, the client talks 80%, the therapist 20%. The therapist should in a kind way hold you accountable to whatever you've asked to be held accountable to, and should be comfortable confronting you when necessary. (Again, shockingly, there are a lot of therapists who aren't comfortable with, and don't do, confrontation, and one cannot do effective therapy without that.)

    Boundaries are super important, though overly rigid boundaries aren't helpful. The therapist should not self-disclose, talk much about their own experience or life (other than in a professional sense, such as their education) except as it directly relates to your therapy. Many therapists don't get this.

    And then -- and this might be the most important -- this is someone who you need to feel completely comfortable and at ease with. You should be able to say anything and not worry about being judged. It should be easy to talk with, and the person should feel trustworthy. The therapist should approach you with unconditional positive regard and accept you as you are, inviting you to discover what it is *you* need to live a better life.

    Ultimately, therapy is always about the client and what the client wants, never what the therapist thinks is "best." (Only exception are things like obvious self harm or harm to others.)

    Don't be surprised if the therapist is rather reserved at first. And don't be afraid to try a session or two with three or four therapists if the first one doesn't feel right.
     
    #5 Chip, Sep 7, 2021
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2021
  6. Engdood1

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    Thanks for such a detailed response Chip. I’m a little out of my depth with all of this so that’s really helpful.
     
  7. Finch Reese

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    From my experience, it is really important to be patient. Therapy is at its base a relationship, and you may not match with the therapist you meet, and that is okay. It took me years and several therapists to find a person with whom I felt I could be open. Beyond that, as another person said, take a look at their background, orientation, etc., especially to see if they have any experience with the LGBT+ community. Good luck:slight_smile:
     
  8. Tightrope

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    Choose carefully and go with your gut. I had a good therapist from '14 through '17. Sure, he said a few things that didn't sit with me well, but they were minor things.

    I had a not so great therapist from '18 through summer of '21 - a few months ago. He immediately asked about my sexual history right off the bat and I gave him a general idea. I was honest. He seemed okay with that. Later it seemed it was just nosiness because he didn't and didn't seem to know how to address sexuality when I wanted to talk about it. He was more concerned about family of origin issues and trauma.

    He is toward the end of his career so I don't think he has the clients he had before. We had the last session several months ago. It was for him to know how we can 'work together better in the future.' I did most of the talking and told him how he didn't even wince at some bad things that have happened in my life but how he did at anything that rocked his sociopolitical views. This seemed backwards to me. The therapist I had prior to him clearly showed to me that he processed some of the negative things that have happened to me in social and work situations. That told me he had empathy. I felt this more recent therapist just wanted to send out a weekly bill.

    I'm more mad at myself for staying this long, but the pandemic hit and telehealth sessions meant I didn't have to pay the copay. His "cold fish" style showed up early and made me uncomfortable.

    I feel better that I have discontinued therapy. With the therapist before this one, I felt better from going to therapy!

    Sometimes, a therapist seems to be able to work with some types of clients more than others - couples, children, women, etc. It also seems that some therapists have pet projects and issues they are passionate about in their lives. This may or may not work for some clients. Try to see what makes them tick and if you can synch with them.
     
    #8 Tightrope, Oct 13, 2021
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
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  9. Chip

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    This is absolutely true. The best therapists will let you know what their areas of specialty and interests are on their website or Psychology Today profiles. The best therapists will also not tell you very much about their personal lives, and certainly not political leanings or anything of that nature. Finding someone that you connect with, respect, and trust is perhaps more important than anything else.
     
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