I just told my therapist I didn’t plan on returning. It was a scary step, although made easier by the fact that I have another appointment with a new therapist next week.
It felt really brave for me to tell her I didn’t think I would be back because it didn’t feel like the right fit, though. There was a time when I would have made excuses or tried to hedge my way out of it. It was difficult to not just tell her I was skipping this week’s appointment and leave the door open until I see whether or not I like the new therapist better.
Ultimately, I decided that I need to find the right therapist or even not go at all if I can’t find the right one. This therapist consistently made me feel worse after I left, which seems like a pretty big warning sign. I always felt kinda judged, which is not something you want to feel from a therapist.
More importantly, I felt like she just gave (mostly inapplicable) advice and didn’t leave me with actionable suggestions I could work on.
I don’t know if what I’m looking for can ultimately be found, though. I’ve never had a really good experience with therapy but I still believe it can work anyway.
I want a therapist who challenges me but who usually makes me leave feeling better about myself or at least more empowered.
Rather than telling me what to do, I want one who takes my life circumstances into account before offering suggestions that I might want to consider.
For example, when I say I’m worried about how I’ll make it when my husband’s gone, I want a therapist to help me get to the root of those fears and give me confidence that I can get through it. I want to be given tools I can use now when the fear comes up. Instead of telling me to meet with a certified financial planner and double my husband’s life insurance (the latter of which is literally not possible with a spouse with cancer), I want to address fears and coping mechanisms.
I want to be given strategies to find in myself the strength to get through whatever challenges I face, including this one.
Even though I know what I want and it doesn’t seem that difficult of an expectation from a therapist, it’s hard not to feel discouraged that so far I haven’t been able to find it.
So I’m going in a different direction this time. Rather than seeing a PsyD who’s an upper-middle-class white woman, I’ll be seeing a masters-level black woman. I’m not sure the demographics will make a difference and my expectations of a therapist should make it so that demographics wouldn’t matter.
Can I find what I’m looking for? I hold out hope that I can. It felt brave to admit that this wasn’t it. I just hope I’m only looking for the right fit, not searching for the unicorn of therapists.