talking with a therapist......where to begin?

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polarsmom
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2009
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 8/11/2009 6:12 AM (GMT -7)   
Newbie here.  I'm just going to dive right in.  I'm almost 40.  Married with a teenage son. 
 
I've been suffering w/ depression for awhile now.  Have been on and off meds for awhile too.  I get temp. relief from them.  But things have gotten worse in the last year.  And I have recently started talking with a therapist.  But I don't even know how to start.  I don't really want to talk about things that truely matter because....  it hurts to much.  Everything makes me cry.  But, I know I NEED to.   So far we've touched on a few things.  ADD, OCPD are at the top of the list. 
 
So, what to I talk about?  I feel sad about everything.  I don't know why I feel this way.  I mean, I know I'm unhappy and irritable.  I know I'm not a pleasant person to be around anymore.  I can't handle ANY stress.  I'm overwhelmed even by little things.  And I don't believe I'm this way for a specific thing or reason.  Do I just start off the session by telling him all the things I hate about myself, my life or like I am confessing my sins or something? 
 
How/where do I begin?  I need a starting point.  Do I just blurt something out? 

stkitt
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 8/11/2009 7:36 AM (GMT -7)   

Dear polarsmom

I'd like to extend a warm welcome to you on your first visit to Healing Well! I am Kitt. I have had depression for 27 years and I remember my first session with a therapist. I cried through the whole session as I could not believe that I needed therapy and why had this happened to me. So I understand your fears.

Your first session with the therapist will be different from future visits. The initial visit is a period for you and your therapist to get to know each other and get an idea where to proceed. Future visits will be more therapeutic in nature.

During the first session, you will be asked about what brings you to therapy. You will be asked what you feel is wrong in your life, any symptoms you are experiencing and your history. History-taking may cover such things as your childhood, education, relationships (family, romantic, friends), your current living situation and your career. You may discuss the length of your treatment, the methods to be employed and patient confidentiality as well. When the therapist finishes, you may be asked if you have any questions.

By the end of the first visit you will most likely feel exhausted but that is natural. Yoy may also feel like it was a wasted visit as it feels like nothing more then a question and answer session.............but do go back and stick with it as therapy worked wonders for me as well as many others.

Your therapist will take the lead and remember this is your time, one on one so feel free to let out all those bottled up feelings you have. Nothing you say is right or wrong............just let your sessions play out and you will do well. If you feel the sessions are not going well do speak up and let your therapist know. Be your own best advocate.

I am here cheering for you and proud of you for joining this great group.

With kindest personal regards,

Kitt


 

Kitt,
Moderator: Osteoarthritis, GERD/Heartburn
Anxiety/Panic, & Depression
*~*
http://www.healingwell.com/donate *~*
"When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others."
Not a mental health professional of any kind


polarsmom
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2009
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 8/11/2009 8:04 AM (GMT -7)   
Thank you so much for your reply. I have talked to therapist a handful of times now. And like you, I am exhausted afterwards. And usually tear up. I end up changing the subject because I don't want to feel these emotions anymore. But obviously it hasn't worked and I need to get help.

Okay, I saw my therapist yesterday. And I ALMOST opened up. But by the time I had the courage to do so my session was almost over so I didn't. I didn't want to get started on something right before walking out the door. I spent most of the day lost in thoughts afterwards. And did alot of crying and basically avoided everything. I didn't have it in me. Wasted time again.

I am going back to the therapist today. In a moment of anxiety/panic whatever...... thinking it's now or never, I won't go back otherwise. I called and scheduled an appointment. Now I wish I hadn't because it's not like I am at the end of my rope. Just a moment of anxiety. But it's too late to cancel.

What should I say when I go? I feel stupid now.

getting by
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 40596
   Posted 8/11/2009 9:02 AM (GMT -7)   
Don't feel stupid, this is important for you to do. The therapist might just ask you questions to get the ball rolling. Like Kitt said, just go with it. I had one therapist that was saying that she wished I would cry to get things out. I couldn't. Crying is cleansing and good for you. So dont' be embarrassed. That is what helps us put things behind us.

Best wishes on a good session, take things as they come. Try to live in the moment. This will all work out for the best. If you cry, that is okay. Like I said, it is cleansing and a good release.

Best wishes and welcome to the forum.

Hugs, Karen
  Moderator-Depression and fibromyalgia
 
fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue, depression,allergies


Agmaar
Regular Member


Date Joined Jan 2009
Total Posts : 376
   Posted 8/11/2009 9:16 AM (GMT -7)   
I think you should tell the therapist exactly what you've shared here. If it's easier, print out this topic and let him read it. It's typical for people to take a while to get comfortable with the therapy setting. He's seen it before.

But really .... if you talk about these things and get them out ..... I think you'll be surprised at how much better you'll feel. I know therapy has done me a lot of good.

And please don't be so hard on yourself. You're not stupid .... or any of those negative things that you're telling yourself.

That's part of the value of therapy - to break up that negative feed back loop we put ourselves in.
Rich
 
Lyme, anxitey, depression, chronic C. Pnuemoniae
 
"... expect the unexpected ..."  (O. Wilde)
 
"I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened." (Mark Twain)
 
 


CassandraLee
Veteran Member


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 844
   Posted 8/11/2009 10:24 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Polarsmom:
 
Welcome to Healing Well.  There are many wonderful members here and this is a very caring atmosphere.  I too found this site around the time that I started with my therapist and that was many years ago.  I found it hard then and often times still do to bring up and/or respond to difficult topics in therapy.  And this is despite the fact that my therapist is extremely compassionate and I have come to trust her fully.  How I have come around in dealing with this difficulty is by writing either a brief letter or even a bulleted e-mail before the session.  This way I know that even though the topic is difficult to bring up it will still be covered.  In the beginning my letter was actually long (it was after my fourth of fifth visit).  I brought up all the things that were troublesome in my life and this letter and her own perceptions became the framework for about 3 years after my visit.  Please note that not everyone needs such a long time-period of therapy.  I just have my own personal circumstances where I have needed this.  Also, I had a session on Monday.  On Sunday night I sent her an e-mail with with 2 sentences.  I mentioned that I had two things that I needed to accomplish during our session.  And I listed what they were.  And when we talked we focused our time specifically on these two things and even though they were very hard for me to discuss I got exactly what I needed from that time.
 
These may not be the ideal solutions for you as we each have our own needs.  But please realize that you are not alone in having difficulties being honest, dealing with specific questions or even verbalizing your own thoughts and needs.  Perhaps you just need a little more time to develop some trust or comfortability with your therapist.  But either way it is important to realize that you eventually need to open up so you can get the help that you acknowledge you need.
 
I wish you the best of luck and please feel free to keep on posting here.  We all care.
 
Cass

THE HAPPY TURTLE
Elite Member


Date Joined Mar 2009
Total Posts : 18772
   Posted 8/12/2009 1:56 AM (GMT -7)   
just to let you know, my first appt with my psychiatrist was rather indifferent. i had a rather rambling mish mash conversation with him. the conversation was about me driving in my car to churches in the wee hrs, to talking about the cemetries i visited. and other stuff. the indifference was for that 50 minutes i uttered not a single word. it was recorded on one of those little dictaphone things. he said he would see me in a month, which i did. he ended being my therapist for four and a half yrs.
 
with loving compassion.
 
jamie
 
dx, mdd, severe borderline personality disorder.

polarsmom
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2009
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 8/12/2009 5:15 AM (GMT -7)   
Thank you so much for the kind words and for sharing your experiences. It helped. Alot. Knowing that it's not just me. And it's okay to feel these things. 
I did go to my appointment. I almost didn't go in to the office. And I almost walked out after going in. I didn't know if I could face him again. After seeing him the day before and basically avoiding getting down to business. I felt stupid. But like I said, I scheduled that appointment knowing it was now or never. If I couldn't do it then it wasn't going to happen anytime soon. So I started to talk about something that truely mattered to me. I was shaking. And I cried. And at first I didn't feel better. I guess saying it out loud made it real. Made it something I need to face. And start learning to deal with. I had a headache and I was spent. And I still had the rest of the day to make it through. But I feel better today. Stronger.

Now if only I could get some sleep!  :-)

stkitt
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 8/12/2009 6:53 AM (GMT -7)   

Congratulations on going back for your appointment.  I know how you feel about putting your feelings into words..........it somehow makes it real.  I still have days where I do not want to believe I have depression and just want to be what I percieve as "normal".  I have had to accept that this is normal for me and that is not easy even after all the years of dealing with depression.

I am glad you are feeling better today.  Take care and keep on talking with us.

Gentle Hugs

Kitt


 

Kitt,
Moderator: Osteoarthritis, GERD/Heartburn
Anxiety/Panic, & Depression
*~*
http://www.healingwell.com/donate *~*
"When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others."
Not a mental health professional of any kind


polarsmom
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2009
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 8/12/2009 7:02 PM (GMT -7)   
I was wondering if anyone asks their therapist questions.    What kind of questions do you ask your therapist?  Do you talk about regular stuff too.  Like what you did over the weekend, hobbies or about the people/pets in photos that you see? 
 
I am trying to feel more at ease.  And I am thinking that maybe having something "safe" to talk about would be helpful.   Something to ease some anxiety.    

CassandraLee
Veteran Member


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 844
   Posted 8/12/2009 8:17 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Polarsmom:  I have always been curious about my surroundings and even my therapist has mentioned how much I always pick up upon.  Her therapy area is very homey and she has many pictures of her friends and one or two of her son.  Additionally, she has beautiful paintings and art work on her wall and about a year ago, she put in a wooden chair that was beautifully painted by an artist in town.  In the very beginning when I started with her, I would often comment upon her pictures or question her on a book or two that she had in her bookcase.  Once I even commented on a clothing flier she had on her desk.
 
I'd suggest taking a look at your therapists surroundings.  By having him/her explain or comment on some of their things you might get some insight about them personally.  And that might help you feel a little more safe and comfortable.
 
I hope this helps!
 
Cass
 

Daisysmom
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 168
   Posted 8/12/2009 11:14 PM (GMT -7)   
Hello Polarsmom,

I am definitely not the perfect little patient. One little tip for you that was good though. Last therapist I had, we would talk about some very upsetting things in my life. I work evenings, so like a good little worker bee I would schedule appointments for a few hours before my shift at work. He suggested I schedule appointments on my day off so that I could cry or decompress or whatever for the rest of the day if I needed. Don't know what your day is like, but that might be an idea... to leave the rest of the day open after an appointment.

Sometimes he would give me a "break" and just ask me fun things, like what did I dream recently. Those were my favorite sessions (I fortunately have not had real bad dreams these last several years).

DaisysMom

polarsmom
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2009
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 8/13/2009 12:19 PM (GMT -7)   
I schedule my appointment on the lightest/most flexible day of my week.  And I do allow myself time before/after to get myself together.   I have a hard time relaxing when I get there.  I guess because I am not really sure what I am supposed to do.   And feel odd telling someone my thoughts/feelings in person.  I am not looking to become 'friends' or anything like that w/ my therapist.  Just would like to find a few things that we have in common.   Something I can ask about or mention when I first sit down. 
 
Do I ask.... How are you?  How was your weekend?  And then say well, so and so really ticked me off and I just about lost it when this happened.  Ya know what I mean?  I guess I just don't know what to expect.  What typically goes on.   And I don't want to be "one of those patients" that they dread sitting with. 
 
How do normally begin your sessions? 

Daisysmom
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 168
   Posted 8/13/2009 10:40 PM (GMT -7)   
hello polarsmom,

I guess it just depends on the therapist. Some have given me "homework" where I'm supposed to write stuff down between sessions and talk about it at the next session. One was just totally open and would just make me start off saying whatever was on my mind for like 10 minutes and then she would give me a bunch of feedback on it. One would sort of just continue where we had left off the last time. I would imagine it depends on whether there is some crisis going on in your life, too.

Probably you should just ask him/her how to start the session and what the protocol is.

-- Daisysmom

THE HAPPY TURTLE
Elite Member


Date Joined Mar 2009
Total Posts : 18772
   Posted 8/17/2009 2:40 AM (GMT -7)   
man, questions!!!!!!!!! pages.......with extensive notes and extensive homework also!!!!!!!! jamie. got to feed the brain!!!!!!!!!

getting by
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 40596
   Posted 8/17/2009 8:04 AM (GMT -7)   
I think all of this is okay. Many therapists are different. It is okay to ask about them. But remember the session is for you. I think just as long as you cover a little ground you are doing good.

I wouldn't worry too much about what to say and how to say it. I would just go and see what happens. It is all good, you know. Sometimes you feel better after wards and sometimes you feel bad, but that is normal.

Just keep going and play it by ear. This should not be stressful for you.

Hugs, Karen
  Moderator-Depression and fibromyalgia
 
fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue, depression,allergies


stkitt
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 8/17/2009 8:26 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Polarsmom
I think it is perfectly fine to ask your therapist how are you today? I would not go into asking any personal questions as the therapy is for you and it is ok to ask about how the therapist thinks you are doing? If you see something in the office I.E. art work etc. that you like certainly make a comment.
 
If she asks you a question and you just don't have an answer just say so.  I would do that as some of the questions just stumped me.  My therapist would ask what makes me feel good or feel bad  so try not to overthink your sessions. 
 
I thought I was suppose to go home and practice things we talked about and ways to cope with others but she told me all the therapy would take place in her office and I did not have home work.  She was teaching me tools to use to help me deal with my depression and feelings of low self-esteem.  The biggest thing I learned was to stay in the moment, in the present and not dwell on the past as it is over.  The future is not yet here so stay in the moment which is right now. :-)
 
It is natural to feel anxious re talking  to a complete stranger and pour out you feelings but the more you get to know your therapist the easier it gets for you.
 
Take care  my friend and know you are completely normal.
 
Gentle Hugs
Kitt
 

Kitt,
Moderator: Osteoarthritis, GERD/Heartburn
Anxiety/Panic, & Depression
*~*
http://www.healingwell.com/donate *~*
"When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others."
Not a mental health professional of any kind


cbear
Regular Member


Date Joined May 2009
Total Posts : 138
   Posted 8/22/2009 11:37 AM (GMT -7)   
isnt it something the way you can read about someone elses problems and realize how closely they parallel your own. id be willing to bet there are hundreds of people who are helped by this site without ever posting. i think thats an amazingly positive use of the internet! i read about someone getting ready to start therapy just at the same time i am too. reading about others ideas and experiences helps me to prepare for my journey into the realm of "psycho-therapy". i, too am very anxious and am sure i will cry the whole time. i dont want to go, but im willing to bcause of my family. im scared. there are things i dont want to talk about that i know i need to. the more i dont want to, the more i probably need to. so to all of you others out there who have just started or are about to start therapy,"Let's do this thing!" thank you, Polarsmom, for getting this discussion started. good luck to you.

THE HAPPY TURTLE
Elite Member


Date Joined Mar 2009
Total Posts : 18772
   Posted 8/23/2009 2:50 AM (GMT -7)   
yes to you cbear. over 6yrs of therapy, been where you are! proud of you and polarsmom!! it does get easier over time. remember one thing, therapists are human too!! jamie. 

polarsmom
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2009
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 8/23/2009 4:48 PM (GMT -7)   
thank you to everybody for being so open here. It's been a great help. And it is comforting to know that others feel or have felt the same way. And having a place to talk about it makes it easier to go through it all. I guess kinda like we aren't 'alone'. That others have experienced these same things, and that makes it not so scarey. That it's going to be okay.

THE HAPPY TURTLE
Elite Member


Date Joined Mar 2009
Total Posts : 18772
   Posted 8/23/2009 5:27 PM (GMT -7)   
it is, jamie. you are on the right track. keep posting, jamie smilewinkgrin

Cloudy30
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 72
   Posted 8/25/2009 6:17 PM (GMT -7)   
For me therapy has been one of the single most difficult and satisfying thing I have done in my life. I too have difficulty expressing emotions because I am always worried whether or not the person I am with is overburdened by me. What I have and am still learning is that the only way to be free of the emotional pain is to experience and learn that it is okay.

The other thing that I do before or after therapy sessions is journal my feelings whatever comes to my mind. This also h elps with my therapy sessions because I can process my issues with my therapist. Best of luck to you and keep going it can feel like a slow process at times but realize that profound change takes time.

polarsmom
Regular Member


Date Joined Aug 2009
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 9/9/2009 11:45 AM (GMT -7)   
 It seems I have a pattern going.  Every other appointment is when I have a melt down.  There will be something really stressful going on in my life.  And it'll consume me.  And then the next appointment I'm doing better.  Problem has been resolved.  I kinda feel like I'm just chatting about stuff that doesn't matter. 
 
Is this normal?  It is nice to have what I'd like to call a "good day".   
 
 

THE HAPPY TURTLE
Elite Member


Date Joined Mar 2009
Total Posts : 18772
   Posted 9/10/2009 6:17 AM (GMT -7)   
hey, it all matters. sometimes chewing the fat is just as productive than directly talking about relevant issues. for me chewing the fat was the best therapy i received. doing well, keep strong and let us know how you are tracking. with compassion. jamie smilewinkgrin

stkitt
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 9/10/2009 6:26 AM (GMT -7)   
I understand what you are saying. Depression is tricky and we may have weeks where everything is fine and we wonder why we need therapy but then we find ourselves feeling down again.
 
I have gone months and felt great and then all of a sudden I am feeling very down.  This is why sticking with therapy is important.  We learn tools and ways to deal with our thoughts and we also have a safe place to go to talk about our feelings.
If you are having any doubts about your therapy please do discuss it with your therapist.
 
There are many different types of therapy.
 
Gentle Hugs
Kitt

 

Kitt,
Moderator: Osteoarthritis, GERD/Heartburn
Anxiety/Panic, & Depression
*~*
http://www.healingwell.com/donate *~*
"When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others."
DX: Anxiety, Depression, Osteoarthritis, GERD, Raynaud's syndrome, Skin Cancer and  IBS

Not a mental health professional of any kind

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