If you’ve read the previous 2 chapters, you’ll remember that I compared the hunt for a therapist like the ordering of a mail-order bride – except that acquiring a bride by mail seems a lot easier than choosing a psychotherapist which is too bad cuz the relationship with a therapist might be more emotional intimate than the relationship experienced by some couples. (Sad, huh?)
I had planned to devote Chapter 3 to the first session with my therapist but I just can’t help but try to come up with some solutions or the ONE great solution to ease the difficulty that many experience when they decide to begin hunting for mental health help. Right now, I think it’s damn difficult to get going. But, maybe that’s just me. This is MY story, after all.
Not to expose my feeling of pride too much, you know, but I must tell you that my idea is brilliant. In fact, I am so sure of my brilliance that it will not surprise me at all if I’m nominated for the Nobel Prize once the community of mental health providers catch wind of my idea.
Nobel Prize for what?, you ask. It would be the Nobel Prize for Improving the Quality of Life for all Human Beings who Desire It. Pretty cool, huh? I believe that my idea would encourage many more people to wholeheartedly jump into the water of psychotherapy. And with more of the population with that willingness, their and our quality of life will improve.
Not only that, war and poverty will become a bad memory. I mean, really, if people better understand their emotions, they’re less likely to act out in violent or selfish ways. We could finally live in peace together. I can see that you’re getting on board with me, aren’t you. Although, initially, you probably thought it absurd to consider myself a candidate for the Nobel Prize, you’re now beginning to think it’s not such a bad idea.
“Wait a minute”, you blurt. “You’re telling us all the wonderful consequences of your idea but you haven’t told us one darn thing about the idea. It’s beginning to look like you’re selling snake oil”. (For the record, I’m not ‘selling’ anything. Of course, donations are always attractive.)
Calm, calm, calm, please. To get your interest I thought it would be best to share all the benefits of my proposal rather than to slam you with the details. Anyway, if you’re still reading, the details are next.
Okay – here’s the current scenario – we conclude somehow or another that it might be good to speak to a professional about our mental health, our emotions; then we look for names listed of those professionals; then, like pointed out in Chapter 2, we might use voodoo magic to select one of them; then we call; then we make an appointment.
First appointment is especially crazy. We’re supposed to go into an office of someone we don’t know, never met, and begin talking about our personal problems? Really? In what universe does that make sense? None–as far as I’m concerned. No wonder most people are not interested in pursuing therapy.
So, here my imaginative, intelligent, impressive, innovative (have I used up the best adjectives yet from the thesaurus?) idea – Speed Dating! Yep, you read that correctly. You know how speed dating works, right? Although I’ve never done it (seems like fun – no commitment, short conversations, lots of variety… I digress), I truly believe it’s the solution to the problems I recognize that exist in just getting going in the psychotherapy world.
First of all, the local therapist community would announce and publicize a ‘fair’, so to speak – you know, kinda like job fairs where people go check out who’s hiring. They could call it, “Get to Know your Friendly Local Psychotherapist Fair” or “Think you Need a Shrink, Take a Peek Fair” or “Curious what a Psychotherapist Looks Like? Fair” or “No Exposure Necessary…Yet, Fair”.
But instead of booths like what job fairs have, the therapists would sit at tables with a chair across the table. Or maybe no table –just chairs facing each other. These logistics can be decided later as the first event is being planned. I can hardly wait to be called on to be a (paid) consultant. Oh,man…
Those who sign up to scope out the psychotherapy scene, would spend 5 minutes with each therapist to, at the very least, see what they look like. More importantly, a short meeting can usually give a strong indication if there is some resonance between the two people. (I’ll discuss resonance a bit more in later chapters. Just know it’s kinda like, “I like you.”). The relationship between the client and a therapist is the most important part of therapy some experts declare. So, such a pre-meeting could go a long ways in pre-establishing a good relationship.
Whoops – I already see a few problems. First of all, if there are 100 therapists, say, in your area, you would be spending 500 minutes in ‘dating’. Ouch. Taking out my calculator and I learn that’s more than 8 hours. No one could do that. Even if you had the stamina to sit through 8 hours of interaction, how in the hey could you remember 100 people you’ve met?
Hold on – don’t worry, I think I’ve come up with a potential solution. Let’s divide the therapists into groups depending on their orientation. Yike, that also could be problematic because there are so many approaches in therapy and so many therapists use more than one technique.
Wait – I know what we can do about that. Condense the options for therapeutic approaches into 6 possibilities from the 40 (that were listed in my locale)- developmental, humanistic, transpersonal, transactional analysis, systems, experiential, cognitive behavioral, solutions-focused, mindfulness based, eclectic, emdr, systemic, dialectical, family systems, body-centered, psychodynamic, feminist, sex therapy, strength based, mind-body, multi-cultural, interpersonal, gestalt, client-centered, somatic, shamanic, NLP, psycho-educational, relational, attachment theory, integrative, contextual, differentiation based, character analytic, orgonomic/biophysical, communication (Satir), Jungian, expressive arts, play therapy, hypnosis, narrative therapy.
Remember I shared all of the above styles with you in a previous chapter. They’re the list as how my local psychotherapists described their own practices and there may be more possibilities, idk. Well, since I’m the one with the potential to win a Nobel Prize, I will be the one to narrow down the selections to 6. (Hmmm, am I qualified since I am ignorant of what most of those systems entail? Not to worry – I doubt it makes much difference)
My selections are – drum roll, please – cognitive behavioral, psychodynamic, solutions focused, experiential, mindfulness based, and client-centered. Oh no, I just had another thought – what if some these approaches are really the same but with different names attached to them? Or what if I’m selecting the least effective modalities? Or what if my local community doesn’t have many therapists who practice with those particular techniques?
O.k., I concede that the therapist community should select the 6 ( or 5 or 7) therapeutic approaches. You know, this brilliant idea of mine is making me feel a bit dizzy. I’m willing to do this work creating something easier only because I’m very fond of what’s easy. Right now, it seems to me that if someone is considering embarking on a therapy sail, it’s much too difficult to find the dock.
Members of the public who want to attend the fair will choose which group of therapists to speed date. AND, each therapist will need to choose their favored or predominant style of therapy in order to assign themselves to one group.
Oops, again. How does a member of the public know with which group to speed date? Ah ha! I do have a solution to that also. (That’s me in action – very solution oriented.) See, our therapist community will send out an information packet to each person who signed up for the event. In that packet is clear information about what each approach involves along with a questionnaire that can be completed to guide the person to decide which group to sign up for.
Whew! Now let’s look at a previous paragraph in order to compare the two methods. (Okay – here’s the current scenario – we conclude somehow or another that it might be good to speak to a professional about our mental health, our emotions; then we look for names listed of those professionals; then, like pointed out in Chapter 2, we might use voodoo magic to select one of them; then we call; then we make an appointment.)
Or, with my proposed method, we learn about modalities of therapy, we learn enough about ourselves to possibly know which modality will suit us better AND we get to spend 5 minutes with a variety of therapists in order to select one to begin to work with.
Dividing the group of, say, 100 into 6 brings each group to approximately 16 or 17. An hour and a half max. Doable, right?
But, I am a realist, at least in some things. And I do know the possibility of my creative and ingenious idea being put into practice is almost nil. And along with that, my hopes for Nobel Prize and world peace are in the realm of fantasy. Doesn’t hurt to dream, though, does it?
O.k., I promise that next chapter will describe my first meeting with my therapist. No, it was not like trying to swim across a river filled with alligators. Nor was it like putting on full body armor to defend against the dragon. These analogies serve to describe an instinct to protect ourselves as if the therapist were the enemy.
It also wasn’t like running into the arms of a long lost love nor was it like the cleansing and relaxing effect of a nice warm shower- metaphors to describe the happiness and relief of finding a safe and comforting place to breathe.
Nope – my first meeting was a bit more complicated than that.