I’ll never forget the first day I entered psychotherapy. I was four months pregnant and reeling from a cocktail of pregnancy hormones that had me stumbling through life as a weepy drunk. And I was mad. Mad at the world. Mad at the television industry that (back then) discriminated against pregnant on-camera babes. Mad at my romantic partner who seemed hell-bent of winning the trophy as most unhelpful father in the world. Mad that the outcome of years of pumping and pulsing at the gym had been erased in a matter of months. One day my daily gush of tears made a unwelcome appearance at my monthly obstetrics appointment and my doctor ordered me into therapy.
I entered the therapist’s office apologizing for my tears. I assured her that I was normally quite a together woman was completely surprised by this mess of black mascara. She was kind, empathetic, and made me promise to stop apologizing for myself. (Sigh. It’s a Canadian cultural tradition so I still do it sometimes.) I expected, like most people, to have a couple quick sessions and be dry-eyed and beaming within a few weeks. Little did I know that I was actually embarking on a tender journey toward the center of my earth. I didn’t know that what I was experiencing was an identity crisis, some delayed grieving for the deaths of my parents, and yes, some pre-pardem depression. In the end I was so fascinated by the process that I spent seven years in therapy and a partially overlapping six years in graduate school studying psychology. Clearly I had found my bag and myself, and along the way I learned a few myths and methods of therapy that the common person may not know. So, here’s a starter list of things you may not know about therapy if you’ve never been there.