If you know a bit about me, you’ll know that I am a licensed social worker and I have been for about 5 years now. I specialize in crisis intervention and I’ve been in this specific field of social work since graduating in 2014.
I want to clarify that I am NOT a therapist and have not done actual therapy since graduate school. But, knowing about therapy and building a therapeutic alliance is something that can color how you view therapy.
This story is my own personal experience of going to therapy and everyone’s experience will be different.
The Precipitating Event: Why I Started Going to Therapy
Before this event happened, I’ve always wanted to go to therapy but never found the time or the motivator to do it. I’ve mentioned this before, but I started going to therapy after going through a break-up in January of 2018. Before this, I had been single for over six years and was feeling the weight of, “I’m never going to find love.”
Then I met D and we dated for all of 6 weeks, from early December to the end of January. I suspected something he was feeling differently towards me the Sunday before he broke up with me. A couple of days later (Tuesday) and the day before we were supposed to see each other again, he called and said that he did not want to see me anymore. He wanted me to come pick up my things ASAP because he was going to meet a friend. I was completely devastated.
I drove to his house (in the rain, because of course) that night and picked up my belongings. I tried to plead and reason with him but he was not interested in anything that I had to say (but of course he still wanted to remain friends -_-). I drove back home and collected myself for work that night.
Luckily I was off the next day and was able to give myself some time to process what happened. I decided to call my parents and then came over to my house to support me.
I gave it a few more days to process and eventually decided that there was no better time than now to start therapy.
How I Found My Therapist
Being someone who was (and still is) extremely busy and had a fluctuating schedule, I wanted to find a way to go to therapy on my own terms. I began by looking for therapists in my area but did not really feel like having to drive to a therapy appointment. That’s when I decided to look into online therapy. I had researched in previously just to know more about it but decided to do a bit more in-depth research to figure out what online therapy service would be the best for me. I decided on trying TalkSpace.
TalkSpace Mini Review
TalkSpace is an online therapy platform that connects you with therapists in your state. Before you start therapy, you complete an assessment, where they will ask you questions about why you want to start therapy, your mental health status, and a host of other things. You then choose your plan (I picked the Unlimited Messaging Plan, which was $49 a week). After choosing your plan, you can choose your therapist from a few different options. I ended up choosing a therapist that was only 20 minutes away from me (go figure lol).
What I Like About TalkSpace
- Unlimited Messaging – I could word vomit anytime I needed to
- I could use the website or the app
- It was on the go and I could message from anywhere
- I was able to choose from multiple therapists
What I Don’t Like About TalkSpace
- The price – it is expensive and is generally not covered under insurance (which is one of the reasons I stopped).
- The interface – while intuitive and user-friendly, I personally did not like online therapy. As someone who works in remote crisis intervention, I thought I would like it more than I actually did.
The Actual Therapy
After choosing my therapist, we set up a time to connect through a video chat. She was incredibly warm and personable so I felt connected with her. She was also a fellow social worker.
I explained that I decided to go to therapy because I wanted help with getting over my recent break-up and to help with general anxiety when it comes to romantic relationships (read more about that here). With my anxiety over romantic relationships, I constantly fear that I am going to do or say something that will make the person that I’m dating dislike me or want to break up with me. This fear caused me to seek constant reassurance that the relationship was okay, and often lead to exactly what I feared. Afterward, I would often spiral which usually included crying, sending lots of texts, and throwing things (usually my phone).
We talked through my anxiety, my previous relationships, and especially my relationship with D. We talked about my triggers, coping skills, my self-sabotage, and fear of confrontation. I stopped dating for about 2 months while I was healing from my break-up.
I would message my therapist every day, usually multiple times a day. This ramped up when I started dating again and felt the anxiety creep back in. I would message her about what I should do or say when I needed to confront them about something. For example, I met a nice guy who I went on a few dates with but decided he wasn’t for me. I messaged her multiple times about the situation and how to handle it. She helped me realize that I feared making people feel the way that I felt (undesirable and unloved) so I would continue dating them even if I didn’t want to.
What I Feared About Going to Therapy
Being judged. While my therapist was amazing – I still felt the fear of being judged. For any person, that is a hard feeling to try and combat. If you’re afraid that your therapist is judging you, they are not. They understand that we are all human and life happens to everyone.
Making her feel disappointed. This was one of my biggest fears, especially when I felt like I was making progress, only to slip back into old habits. For example, I never told her that I ended up sleeping with D again months after we broke up. In retrospect, I wish I had.
Going backward and ruminating. I tend to ruminate on everything, so constantly talking about what was going on and how I felt about it, made me worry that I would ruminate even more. But, being able to process it with another person was so helpful.
What I Gained From Going to Therapy
Perspective. I learned a lot about being the client and what they go through and think about when they are in the process of therapy. It’s hard, scary, and often confusing.
Coping skills. While I know all about coping skills, it can be hard to put them into practice. I liked that my therapist held me accountable for using my coping skills and for helping me find new, healthier coping skills that worked for me.
A Safe Space. While I am generally a very open person and will talk about what is bothering me, I usually only do so if I’m asked. Having someone I could talk to about anything and everything that came to my mind was an incredibly helpful experience.
Validation. This was the most important. We are told by so many people that we shouldn’t feel a certain way. Being understood and told that what you’re feeling is not wrong or stupid is liberating.
So that was my therapy story. While not as exciting, heartbreaking, or life-changing as others, it is still mine. Thank you so much for reading. If you’d like to share your therapy stories or mental health stories in the comments feel free to!
Briana Hollis is a licensed social worker and self-care coach. She earned her Master of Science in Social Administration from Case Western Reserve University in 2014 and her Master of Education from Tiffin University in 2019. She has spent the last 5 years working in crisis intervention. Her passion for serving others is the heart of this site. She started Learning To Be Free to assist others in bringing freedom to their lives.
Briana is also the author of The Self-Care Journal for Young Adults.