How to Find the Right Therapist for You: Part One

As my sister Kris has just finished touring the country to promote her best-selling book “Crazy Sexy Diet,” I’d like to draw attention to a key aspect of her message: In addition to what we eat and drink, we are all made up of what we think. Kris often talks about the importance of “cleaning out one’s cubbies” as a metaphor for navigating our inner terrain, and I love her expression. So as the Crazy Sexy posse’s new therapist in residence, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about therapy – what it is and whether it’s right for you.

First of all, for those of you who have never been in therapy before or who have thought about it and have some apprehensions, let me just say that I understand that the idea of seeing a therapist can be pretty scary. Many people assume that therapists can see through them or read their minds, which understandably makes people feel really exposed. Furthermore, I know that a lot of people also don’t like the idea of seeing a therapist because they think that therapy is only for “crazy” people. While I don’t believe that either of those things is true, I do believe that it’s natural for people to feel vulnerable in any new therapy situation. My question is: What can we do about that?

Part of the answer is realizing that the payoff is worth it. If I can use my own experience as an example, I remember feeling a tremendous amount of anxiety the first time I went to see a therapist. In my particular circumstances I happened to be very young at the time (about 10 years old), but I recall feeling sheer terror, and actually refusing to leave the waiting room to go into the office – a game that lasted several sessions. Thankfully the therapist was a good one, and she was patient with me until I felt comfortable enough to go in on my own time. I ended up working with her for several years, and she was enormously helpful for me. Because of that, the stigma of therapy wore off for me at a very young age, and ever since then I’ve seen therapy as something that I can go back to whenever I need it – not because something is wrong and it needs to be fixed, but because therapy is how I grow, how I learn about myself, and how I access all of the parts of myself that I need in order to become the person that I want to be. Therapy can be genuinely helpful for all of us when it comes to cleaning our cubbies. After all, everybody has them; it’s part of what it means to be human.

Of course, people are also sometimes motivated to go to therapy because they’re truly suffering. If this applies to you, please don’t wait. As someone who’s been on both sides of the couch, I can tell you that therapists aren’t here to read your mind or make you feel exposed. We’re here to use the tools that we’ve learned to guide you back to yourself. There is real healing to be found out there, no matter the nature of your distress, and you owe it to yourself to step up to the plate.

In my next installment of this little series, I’m going to decode some of the lingo out there and demystify a few things, so that if you do decide that you’d like to give therapy a try, you’re armed and empowered to make an educated decision for yourself. Remember, you’re worth it. As Kris would say: Eat your veggies and shake your ass, and clean those cubbies!