Today’s blog entry focuses on the early stages of the therapeutic process: finding a therapist that’s right for you.
I’m posting on this theme to clarify some of the confusion that still exists and to provide a roadmap for anyone interested in taking the next step on their mental health journey.
THE ROAD TO THERAPY
The decision to start therapy isn’t made lightly in most cases. It can be daunting if you don’t know what to expect and can feel like an expensive or time-consuming exercise you just don’t have room for in your already busy life.
Perhaps the biggest deterrent to seeking therapy, however, is the ongoing stigma attached to it and the fear that getting professional help is a sign of failure or weakness. Research shows that men are particularly resistant to therapy because of concerns that society will look down on guys “who can't ‘tough it out.’”
Of course, the opposite is in fact true: therapy can be incredibly beneficial and takes great courage; it is nothing to ever be embarrassed or ashamed of.
FINDING THE RIGHT THERAPIST
Once you’ve made the important decision to see a therapist, the next step is finding the right one.
Finding a therapist in a large metropolitan city like Toronto can be overwhelming. With that said, it is important to remember that therapists, much like their clients, are all different. They have unique disciplines, areas of specialization, educational backgrounds and personalities that all contribute to their overall approach.
Searching for the right therapist requires patience, effort and even an actual session or two to determine whether they are a good fit for your needs. Ultimately, the key to making progress in therapy is finding someone you trust and can connect with in a meaningful way.
Here are some steps for finding a therapist that’s right for you:
The decision to embark on therapy is a big step in anyone’s life. Afterall, it takes courage to admit we don’t have all the answers and might need some extra help. Doing the necessary diligence, as I outlined above, will go a long way to helping you find the right therapist in Toronto and set you on a path to progress in your mental health journey.
Stop Mental Health Stigma!
The Pursuit of Happiness
I routinely meet with people who are struggling with the pressures of raising kids. It’s a 24/7 job that can spark a roller coaster of emotions depending on the day: fear, resentment, joy, frustration….and that’s just before breakfast.
But one of the most common emotions that my therapy clients struggle with goes to the heart of how they see themselves as parents. And that feeling is shame.
WHAT IS SHAME?
The experience of shame is deeply personal and can make us question how we see ourselves in everyday life.
As a parent, shame can lead to feelings of unworthiness and self-doubt around how we’re bringing up the next generation, particularly when certain parts don’t work out as we envisioned or planned.
WHERE DOES SHAME COME FROM?
Moms and dads often have an image in their mind of what parenting ‘should’ look like. Aptly coined the ’myth of the perfect parent’, this romanticized outlook is usually formed before the babies are even born and the messiness (literally and figuratively) or parenting truly sets in.
This universal idea of what parenting ‘should’ look like can also give rise to a million smaller ‘shoulds’ that creep into our everyday thinking. For example:
I should be breastfeeding my baby.
I should be balancing career and family.
I should always enjoy spending time with my kids.
I should never yell or show frustration.
The trouble with all these ’shoulds’ is that they put an unrealistic pressure on moms and dads to parent a certain way and can lead to feelings of defeat when things don’t work out. This disconnect between expectation and reality is where shame starts to set in.
WHAT ELSE IS AT PLAY?
While the issue of shame around parenting isn’t anything new, certain aspects of modern life aren’t helping.
Social media, for example, has made it easier than ever to compare ourselves to one another and fill our minds with doubt about what we should and shouldn’t be doing as parents. Just last year, a survey of 500 Canadian women revealed that 82% of moms compare themselves to other moms online and 69% said they have “insecurities about motherhood” due to social media.
SO, WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Despite the emotional challenges of parenting in today’s world, there are strategies that can help:
The Underexplored Issue of Postpartum Anxiety
Lowering the Stress of Summer Parenting
Surviving Motherhood: 5 Tips to Help Avoid Burnout
Lindsay Ross, MSW RSW, is a clinical social worker in private practice in Toronto, Ontario.