When we have emotional wounds and unresolved trauma, it's best to work with a professional who is able to assist us with reconciling the pain of the past. Though we may have friends and family members that we can confide in, it's very important to work with a professional that is able to help us make sense of the pain while we learn to manage our thoughts about these situations in such a way that we do not retraumatize ourselves and someone with a background in behavioral health and counseling experience is able to do so.
Things to know:
1. Licensed therapists are bound by law and only able to provide services in certain areas
2. Not all therapists are able to prescribe medication and make diagnoses
3. You must research and select the therapeutic approach that you believe may work best for you ie. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Existential, Gestalt etc.
Here are steps to take prior to your first therapy visit:
1. Find a therapist that is a match for you
Finding a therapist is quite like finding a mate in that you need to assure it's an all around good fit. This relationship needs to be one in which there is a mutual understanding of your race and cultural background because they both have an impact on the way we are showing up in this world and the wounds we have developed. For Black America, many of us suffer from racial trauma also referred to as "black trauma" or trauma that has been inherited through our DNA because of oppression and racism. Black trauma has changed our DNA and causes many of us to live in hypervigilance.
You also need to assure that the therapist of your choosing behaves at the highest level of ethics as to not compromise your mental health. Additionally, you want to assure that their specialty and therapies used are a match for you and your needs. For example, many people prefer the widely popular CognitiveBehavioral therapy (CBT)--typically referred to as talk therapy. "Therapists using CBT as a primary method for treating their clients report success with highly complex disorders like PTSD, specific phobias, generalized anxiety, social anxiety disorder, depressive disorder and many more." (https://www.mentalhealthcenter.org/why-is-cbt-effective-for-mental-health-treatment/)
2. Do your research
Research your therapist on the web to check reviews and credentials. Also, take them up on their initial appointment which will help you to gain a sense of who they are how they can help you resolve your circumstances.
3. Create a plan
Many people make the mistake of visiting a therapist without a plan. A key component of a successful therapeutic relationship depends on you communicating your needs to the therapist. You need to have a plan with clear objectives that you want to accomplish for each session such as learn techniques to deal with my toxic mother, help understand why I choose toxic partners etc.
4. Do the work
It doesn't end after the appointment. You must continue to do the work daily which includes any home work assignments your therapist may give you while applying what you have learned during each session.
Just as our body needs healthy, high quality foods and nutrients for wellness so does our soul and spirit. Further your emotional growth by reading self-help books, listening to positive and inspirational talks (via podcast and youtube), and spending time with people that are invested in growing and emotionally maturing as well.
Typically, therapy helps you resolve issues pertaining to your past. Life Coaching, on the other hand, focuses on the present and the future and helps you create goals and motivates you toward success in every area of your life.