Filed in lifestyle, personal  /  November 2, 2021 /

Living in unprecedented times, we decided to share helpful tips on how to find a good therapist and bare it all with our own therapy experiences. 

I grew up in a household in the South where therapy was something for people who admitted to having serious issues. The stigma that something had to be really wrong with you if you needed professional help built a cloud of shame, weakness and fear around the topic. This left the only acceptable forms of therapy to be retail, exercise, and wine.  

As a young adult, I moved to New York City where having a therapist became like having a gym membership or a purse—an essential lifestyle accessory. Weekend brunch or happy hour would undoubtedly include the phrase “my therapist said…”. I saw second-hand how helpful having an un-biased, professional confidant to discuss any professional, personal, or intimate issue was. This exposure began to diffuse that shameful stigma around having a therapist. Therapy was relabeled as a luxury item… an if I had an extra $150 to blow this week expense. Which I’d often rather invest in a new bag, a trip or a nice dinner. 

In 2013, I was in a traumatic accident and for the first time in my life I needed a therapist to work through fears that were born as a result from the incident. I interviewed a few therapists but ran into many discouraging roadblocks around their availability, costs, and approaches. Therapy seemed inaccessible and I gave up the search. I found healing from a combination of regular acupuncture, exercise, and a tarot card reader. 

Last August, my mother unexpectedly passed from COVID-19 and I found myself dealing with a devastating loss with seemingly no place to turn. My need for a therapist resurged and I decided to give the accessible app Betterhelp a try.

With the limitations from my first therapist-search experience dissipated, I decided to really hone in on exactly what I wanted from a Therapist. Did I want a male or female therapist? Particular specialties or philosophies? Couple or family experience? Certain education? Racial or cultural background? Virtual or in person? The Betterhelp platform really lends itself to “dating” different therapist and “breaking up” with them seamlessly if it didn’t seem like the right fit. 

I dated 2 different therapists from Betterhelp but my need for someone local became important to me. I did find certain aspects about the app helpful such as the journal, automated reminders, and text-chat functionalities. 

Dating 2 therapists on Betterhelp helped me decide what I actually needed in a therapist VS what I thought I needed. Like dating, managing your expectations of what is possible in a session is also important. I would say it takes 3 dates / sessions to get a grasp of if you jive with a therapist. Some things I asked myself after a session are…

  1. Can I share whatever (and I mean whatever) unfiltered thought comes through my mind to this person? 
  2. Do they perform the kind of therapy that I need (a listener, a question asker / prompter, a connecter of dots, certain specialties/ experience)?
  3. Do they keep me accountable to my goals that I are looking to achieve in therapy (work through certain topics, brainstorm solutions, etc.)? 

I was indeed successful in finding a local therapist that checked all my boxes whom I have been seeing her regularly (virtually and for in-person sessions). What I came to find is that while trauma or a loss might have been a forceful push to getting a therapist, I ended up covering a wide range of topics of various intensities. In therapy subjects including but not limited to business- professional career, family dynamics, Bumble dates, past trauma, health and wellness, friend and family conflicts, manifesting- vision boards, sex, current events, movies/shows and books have been dissected and discussed. 

What most people don’t realize is many insurance policies cover a portion of a session or a certain number of sessions. This is not an AD: call you insurance provider and learn about what you have covered complimentary. 

I no longer feel like I’m burdening my friends with therapeutic sessions over cocktails and feel at ease knowing I have a trusted, trained professional that is the keeper of all my secrets (by law because of HIPPA). What I hope Bare readers take away from this is that mental health is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. 

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Kalu Ndukwe Kalu

The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.