Yesterday, I read a post about what trauma from therapy can look like.
It was a great read by Dr. Nicole LePera that included a comprehensive list of what trauma would look like—as well as a list of questions we may want to ask a potential therapist, counselor, or healer during our healing journey.
I thought it was an incredibly important topic because of my own initial, awful experience in therapy—so important that it inspired me to share my own story. I not only want to point out that it’s possible to have a bad experience with a therapist but also want to highlight that sharing our stories allows others the space to recognize they are not alone in their experiences.
Also, I believe everyone should find the support of an experienced therapist and healer during their journey, and I cannot stress how impactful it has been for me.
But, when we encounter those who aren’t the right fit for us, are inexperienced, or are downright unhelpful, it can discourage us from seeking out any kind of healing help because it can send us spiraling down a hole—we can feel misunderstood and as if there is no hope or end in sight for our pain.
Understand that there can be bad therapists/coaches/healers out there and if you have been struggling with an experience you personally had, then maybe this is exactly what you needed to see. For now, I will share my own experience with therapy.
When I first sought out therapy, it was actually not at all how I had hoped, but instead, a complete mess. I had just got out of an abusive relationship and I was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and severe panic attacks—I was diagnosed with Panic Disorder after seeing a psychiatrist at the hospital. I was referred by my doctor at the time and the wait time for seeing a psychiatrist through the hospital is often quite long.
When I eventually had my session with him, it was very cold and removed. It was pretty much like a scene out of a movie where the doctor sits in a white lab coat and asks you questions with a clipboard in hand. It was clinical and he was only interested in a diagnosis and treatment (with meds). There was no eye contact, no warmth, and zero connection. I felt as if I was being judged and it certainly didn’t feel like a safe place to unpack my trauma and emotions.
Needless to say, that did not work out for me at all and I found it was making things worse. I looked elsewhere for a therapist, but that ended up being even worse. She wasn’t a bad person, but she was clearly inexperienced in healing fresh trauma or narcissistic abuse because she had me do exercises that I didn’t want to do—this immediately triggered my panic attacks and made me feel worse.
I began to feel dread and anxiety about my appointments with her and I knew they weren’t helping so I stopped going to her.
I felt so lost not knowing what to do and not having the support I needed. When we’re in a fragile and traumatized state, what we need is a safe space where we can feel comfortable, seen, and heard.
Neither of these experiences were remotely close to that. I was discouraged and feeling worse than I was before.
But my spirit was determined to heal, and after a while, I began my search for a therapist once again. As I was doing my own work on healing with books, webinars, videos, and other healing modalities, I continued to search online for a psychotherapist and made sure this time that they had experience in narcissistic abuse.
After a few searches and emails, I finally found a wonderful therapist and I was so relieved when I had my first session with her. She was absolutely fantastic and she has been my therapist for the past five years now.
Not only was she well experienced and knowledgeable, but she was also warm, inviting, and nurturing. She was able to offer me the safe space I needed in order to be vulnerable and allow my pain and trauma to take a seat at the table. The best part about her was that she understood the importance and role that spirituality has in relation to healing our trauma and finding peace. This was so important to me, and the truth is, I never actually realized it was important to me until I was finally experiencing that kind of healing support.
My experience with her has completely changed my outlook on therapy. My focus has finally shifted to healing and I feel I am being led toward my path and life purpose.
But I did finally discover what was missing during my own healing journey: it was a connection to Spirit and with my Self. It was when I sought out these modalities for myself that I knew there was more to healing than just a sterile clinical room and a diagnosis.
Once I started my healing journey, I continued on my learning path to become a healer—I have since received my Reiki Master level. Then, I continued on and went to school for Spiritual Direction and Psychotherapy. I graduated as a Spiritual Director a year ago now and Psychotherapy is on hold as other plans have taken the forefront. But, I have learned that life happens as it needs to and that timelines are only important to each individual.
I have also learned to allow life to unfold exactly as it is meant to.
An important takeaway from this post is this: learn how to self-advocate.
Growing up, I started to become a voice for others and as I got older, that voice became louder and louder. I realized that this voice was getting louder because I needed that voice for myself.
I didn’t have someone to speak up for me when I was growing up. I was shy, quiet, and never spoke out—my parents and teachers didn’t speak for me either.
The trauma incurred from all of those moments where no one stood up for me impacted me far greater than I could ever know. But as we heal and peel back the layers, something truly beautiful starts to happen: we start the journey back to us.
The more healing I did, the louder my voice became for myself and I didn’t have to shout as loud for everyone else. I was being seen and I was being heard…by me.
My therapist and healers played major roles in my healing and were absolutely crucial. If you’ve had unpleasant experiences with a therapist, please don’t let that discourage you from continuing to heal and return to you.
Fight for yourself and keep looking. Take all the time you need and don’t be afraid to lean on trusted friends or mentors for support and suggestions on where to look.
Whatever it is you need to do, continue to do it because you will find the right therapist and it is so worth it.
But more than anything else, you are completely worth it and deserving of it.
I wish you so much love and peace during your journey.