"My first experience of therapy was 6 years ago when I was living in London. I had convinced myself that I didn’t need any more help. Looking back, I don’t know how I ever believed that was the case."
By Patrick Scott Jeffries • 16th February 2020
Photo by Faris Mahommed
Patrick Scott Jeffries
My first experience of therapy was 6 years ago when I was living in London. I had been putting it off for quite awhile as I had been taking medication to help with my depression and anxiety for just over a year and had convinced myself that I didn’t need any more help.
Looking back, I don’t know how I ever believed that was the case.
The first time is always pretty nerve-wracking as you have no idea what to expect. You have never met this person and you don’t know what they will ask, or what they expect from you. Job interviews are scary but at least you have an idea of what is expected of you.
I had spoken to my manager at the time and explained the situation and I was lucky as she was very supportive, allowing me to leave work early to attend my first session. My GP had suggested Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and through my local Mental Health Services they had paired me with a female therapist based in a local Community Health Centre. She was very welcoming and made me feel at ease straight away by talking me through CBT.
Therapists will usually ask you to tell them a little bit about yourself. Your name, background, profession etc. This gives them a better idea of who you are and also breaks the ice a little. She asked me to talk through my experiences with depression, how it impacted me and how often it happened. I found it very easy to talk to her and generally a lot of the talking came from me. She would occasionally ask me questions throughout, like “how did this make you feel?”, which helped to keep the conversation going and also made me really think about the situations I was talking about. I found it surprisingly cathartic to say these things out loud and didn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed to admit to them. I know some people struggle to open up to strangers but with therapists I think you just have to go with it to get the best out of it. If you hold back, then you are just keeping those issues locked away inside your own head, which kind of negates the idea of therapy.
It’s surprising how quickly an hour can go and when I left I felt emotionally drained. It can really take it out of you but I definitely felt like I had lifted some of the weight off my shoulders.