Things I Learned In Therapy: Consistency Is KeyAlessandra Rizzotti

Sometimes you just need someone to tell you it’s time to see a therapist.  And when that happens, you may be shocked or ashamed at first.  You may not be comfortable with the idea, or you may think it’s a waste of time.  You may think that having a friend listen to your problems is just as good as talking to a professional.  I used to think all those things, but when I started to monopolize valuable time with my friends as an adult by constantly complaining about life, I realized it was time to see a therapist.  Yes, friends are there to be there for you, but you also have to be there for them.  And you can’t totally be there for your friends unless you can recognize your limitations and work on yourself first.  Keep in mind, I’m not trying to force you to see a therapist, I’m only letting you know of my situation and encouraging you to research your options if you do feel the need.

That being said, I started therapy when I was seven years old.  It was not until adulthood that the process of going regularly started to help me function as a well-adjusted human.  Like learning how to play an instrument, therapy had its way of taking time.  And taking breaks along the way didn’t help the process.  Consistency was key.  Only now do I truly know the necessity of seeing a therapist weekly and fortunately I have given myself the budget to follow through.  When you don’t have the budget, though, there is always a way.  Never give up.  If you do not have health insurance, there are many therapists that can see you at a sliding scale from five dollars to a rate that can work within your means, or there are counseling centers with resources available to you within your state, like Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services in California.

My childhood therapist was a hypnotist that my mom found through insurance.  I had extreme anxiety while taking standardized tests and within five years with this hypnotist, I learned how to relax in pressure-filled situations.  Who knew that a crystal being waved from side to side against my face would somehow cure me?  There was more to the hypnotherapy, but that’s an image that sticks out in my mind.  It also helped that I had a tutor throughout middle school and high school who gave me enough encouragement that I felt confident in time-sensitive situations.  But I learned from the hypnotist how to physically relax and create ways to mentally prepare myself so that I didn’t feel any pressure while test-taking.  One way to loosen up was to take deep breaths and recite a mantra while releasing the breaths.  On the day of a test, I’d walk fourteen blocks to school, trombone tied to my rolly backpack, and I’d breathe in every time I took a step, then quietly tell myself, “You’re going to get an ‘A’ today.”  Seems extreme and a little OCD, but it worked and I started to win in life.  The power of suggestion, people.  The power of believing in oneself.  Sometimes it takes a mom, a hypnotist and a tutor from Sylvan Learning Center.

Therapy started up for me again when I turned 18.  It was time to move out of the house and go to college, but my overly protective Jewish mother was not having it.  We went to a family therapist and finally, after a year, we somehow came to an agreement that I needed to gain some independence and try living in a college dorm.  While in college, I did not see a therapist, mostly because nothing seemed too pressing or tragic in my life.  But I went through so many strange relationships and a slight depression during those four years that I regret I didn’t attempt to seek some help.  The consistency of talking to someone could have made a huge difference in my life.  If you are in college, know that there are so many resources for you.  You HAVE to have health insurance when you are in school, so seek out therapists that are covered under your insurance program.

Now that I work, I am lucky to have benefits that allow me to see a therapist regarding issues ranging from career to personal life.  However, I didn’t see an effective therapist until I decided to get suggestions from the onsite clinician at my workplace.  Sometimes, it’s hard to find the resources that are available to you.  Seek out an HR Manager to make you aware of them.  If you don’t have insurance through your workplace, seek out a list of providers through your private insurance program and call as many therapists as possible until you find someone that you feel comfortable talking to.  It takes trial and error, but the more you try, the better therapist you will find.

Currently, I am working on figuring out my future.  I’m in my 20s and I’m past the quarterlife crisis, so I need to figure out what I’m doing with myself.  The assignment I’ve been given from my therapist this week, that I want to share with you, is: Write a diary entry about one day in your life, ten years from nowReflect on all the things you love about your life and the accomplishments you’ve made.  You can even write about accomplishments you’ve made for each year of your life, up until the ten year mark.  Feel free to share below, or keep it close to your heart, locked up in your diary.  This is a fun assignment and it can really help you set some goals.  If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and I’ll answer.  Or, you can email me!

If you are interested in checking out your options for mental healthcare, Google ‘mental health services’ or ‘department of mental health’ within the are that you live.  If you’re feeling like you need emergency help, call 911 or if you just need someone to talk to during a dire situation, a crisis hotline within your area can be very helpful.  Los Angeles County’s Department of Mental Health, for example, has a hotline and a list of very helpful numbers.  I’ve never had to use these hotlines myself, but I have used them for friends and it’s good to know they are available.  Just know that therapy is not just for the privileged.  Everyone deserves to have access to a counselor, mentor, or therapist and your county can make it possible for you.

And for some fun, just to lighten the mood, you should check out Lisa Kudrow’s webseries Web Therapy.  This is an example of a therapist you probably don’t want, but it is HILARIOUS.  Also, watch this episode from the old hit animated show Dr. Katz featuring comedians Louis C.K. and Kevin Brennan.  Genius.  It’s a perfect example of how creative minds definitely need to sit down and talk about their feelings from time to time.

 Top Image from Peanuts.com

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  1. Beautiful article. Thanks for sharing and writing it. You are a BRAVE and strong person

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