Hey, Sis, healing is a journey, and you don’t have to be alone. Sisters Healing Space provides you with the autonomy to select from a diverse range of practitioners to empower you in your journey. We value culturally safe, inclusive and responsive practices.
So, reading this, you might be considering or looking for a therapist. Well, you have come to the right place, we have developed a guide for our sisters contemplating or at the start of their healing journey.
Challenge the stigmas
We all may need therapy at some point; we all face challenges that may affect us psychologically, emotionally and mentally. Even therapists need therapy. You are not crazy or cursed; it’s okay not to feel okay, and it’s okay to talk to someone. You don’t have to be alone on this journey. Talking to someone isn’t a sign of weakness or lack of faith. It shows that you have the courage and strength to get support. Mental health has no financial status, gender or race preference; there may be various triggers or life events that can impact your mental health and well-being. You are not your mental illness; don’t label yourself because of a mental health illness or condition. Don’t self-diagnose, stay away from unqualified ‘Dr Google’ and speak to your GP or a mental health practitioner.
Choosing the right therapist is like dating
- You view their online profile listing, read their bio, and decide if you should make the first move or keep scrolling.
- The first thing to consider is location. Sis, do you want a long-distance, online or would you prefer some near you, for face to face/in person sessions?
- When you first meet, sometimes you may know they are the one – or, alternatively, that you’re just not compatible.
- You just met. Do you talk about your childhood? Do you have to do an assessment? You might not be sure how much you should reveal.
- You want to know more about them and their practices, what are their specialties? What are their professional values and beliefs?
- Or you can’t be bothered going though the process of selecting a therapist and settle for your first choice.
The process of finding the right therapist is not easy; it’s a process that requires taking your time. This is your healing journey trust the process.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. To find the right therapist, you should get to know the ones you are considering. Listed below are a few questions you can ask a therapist before your first appointment:
- What inspired your career path?
- What are your qualifications?
- What theories/approaches do you specialise in?
- What are your approaches and principles for helping clients?
- What is your practice framework?
- How long are the sessions?
- What does a session with you look like?
- Is your practice culturally safe, responsive and inclusive?
- How many sessions would you recommend?
- What are your views on racism, oppression and intersectionality?
- What are your beliefs and values?
After you have asked your potential therapist a few questions, take time to reflect and think. Is this therapist suitable for me? Are we compatible? What do I hope to achieve out of my healing journey? It’s important to reflect on your values, beliefs and goals because therapy is supposed to be empowering for you, not disempowering. If they are not the one, it’s okay, we have plenty of other practitioners for you to choose from.
Your First Appointment
At my first appointment, I thought I would be lying on a sofa with the therapist on the chair, and I would be talking about my childhood. Well, it wasn’t like that my therapist introduced herself and her practice. A good therapist is professional and will set professional boundaries. They might not disclose a lot of information about themselves; it’s about you. A good therapist will minimise any distractions during your session. They wouldn’t be checking their phone frequently, eating during a session, walking around etc. They would ensure that all your sessions are in a safe, confidential environment ( you may also prefer outdoor therapy settings).
The first appointment is usually getting to know each other, discussing life stressors or triggers, identifying goals and outcomes from your sessions. Don’t be afraid to share your story when you are ready. Every first appointment is different; however, it’s usually about getting to know each other and building a rapport.
After your first session, your therapist might ask you to do some activities before your next appointment. These activities may help you to reflect on your session and see things from your perspective in a different environment. Your therapist may also give you steps or guides on how you can maintain your health and well-being until your next session.
The number of sessions you may need and the duration of each session is up to the therapist and you. If you are visiting the therapist on a government initiative or using rebates or subsidised rates, the number of your sessions and their duration might be set beforehand.
Here are a few red flags that could indicate that it may be time to find a new therapist:
- The therapist isn’t listening to you.
- The therapist is always telling you what to do and being authoritative.
- The therapist is displaying inappropriate behaviour.
- The therapist has breached your confidentiality agreement.
- The therapist’s practice is not culturally safe, responsive or inclusive.
- You feel disempowered after therapy.
It is worth pointing out that the red flags may be reportable offences, or you can make a complaint to the therapist’s registration/association board.
These are just helpful guidelines to assist you in your journey and should not be taken as professional advice. Please consult with your doctor regarding any information in the document. Most importantly, enjoy the journey and trust the process!