Here’s What To Know Before Going To Therapy For The First Time

Illustration by Lindsay Hattrick

It’s not as simple as you’d think

I met my therapist by chance. On a whim, one day, I went to my university's psychology clinic as a means to finally face some of the anxiety- and depression-related issues I'd been having at college, and after filling out what seemed to be mountains of paperwork asking me to rate the weight of my pain on a scale of one to 10, he appeared in my life and helped me turn my fears into power. My time with him taught me more than I ever thought possible about myself—so much so that our sessions went on well after I received my cap and gown.

But while my experience finding a therapist was a relatively smooth one, thanks to having a school with adequate resources, I know it's not that simple for most people. For many people, there's tons of legwork to be done in finding a doctor, and sometimes it takes a while before settling on the right match for you and your needs. To better help anyone else who's looking to start therapy, I talked to five therapists about what to expect when looking to start therapy. Here's what they had to say.

Therapy Is Not A Substitute For Advice-Giving
One of the biggest myths about therapy, and the way it may be portrayed on television or film, is that your therapist is going to solve your issues for you. It's actually quite the opposite: "The therapist works as a guide to help the client explore their own goals and meaning so they ultimately make the best decision for themselves," says clinical counselor Sarah Farris. "Therapists will also take an individual's culture, identity, and values into account without judging. In cases that are more specific, the therapist will use particular techniques or methods to treat a certain condition."

Have An Idea Of What You Are Looking For
The actual practice of therapy is far from being one-size-fits-all. There's psychotherapy, journal therapy, music therapy, and so much more. Before finding your therapist, be sure to do some research on all the different types out there. Dr. Katie Krimer of Union Square Practice says, "You may hear lots of unfamiliar terms thrown around like CBT, DBT, ACT, Mindfulness, Psychoanalysis, etc. Before you go into searching for your first therapist, ask yourself what kind of experience you want. If there's a specific issue that you struggle with, do some research to find out what kind of evidence-based therapies are out there that may best suit your needs." 

Know How To Get A Feel For A Therapist Before Meeting Them
One of the best ways for you to begin your journey toward healing is to ensure that you and your therapist have good chemistry. Dr. Bryan Bruno, medical director at Mid City TMS, says, "To figure out if your therapist will have a good rapport with you, start with a phone call to see how the conversation feels. Remember that therapists are human beings, too, so they may not be the right fit for every patient."

And Dr. Krimer tells me that, like you would before heading out to a new restaurant or bar, you should use your friends as references, "One of the best ways to look for a therapist is to ask those closest to you if they have any connections or know someone whom they really liked. It can be really difficult to find a great therapistand it's hard to know from a picture and description what kind of person they're going to be. So if someone can give you a recommendation firsthand, that can be a great way to start."

But don't stop there. "Once you've done your research and you have someone in mind, you can call the clinic and ask the clinical coordinator a little bit more about the potential provider," Dr. Krimer says. "If you're looking for a particular treatment modality, a preferred sex, someone with expertise in a given field, you can vet someone in this way. Good clinical coordinators will get a vibe from this conversation and typically try to set you up with someone based on your preliminary needs. Even if you've never been to therapy before and know absolutely nothing, you can call a clinic and be upfront about your newness. They will help set you up with someone who they feel might be a great fit."

Know How You'd Like To Pay
It's weird to think of something so emotional and life-changing like therapy as a business. But it's better to get all the technical stuff like payments out the way early. And usually, your therapist will work with you to help you reach a financial system that works for you. "Some therapists accept insurance and some don't. It's important to know if you want to pay privately or use your insurance," Dr. Farris continues. "You can search for in-network therapists and you can also request a quote from the therapist before the appointment to get an idea of what your responsibility would be based on your insurance plan. Some therapists will also offer a sliding fee scale if not taking insurance." 

Things May Feel Worse Before They Feel Better
Along with thinking that therapy can be a substitute for advice-giving, another common misconception is that it'll automatically make you feel better post-session. Not all breakthroughs will feel good—in fact, real progress often makes you feel uncomfortable. It's good to keep in mind that healing, like your own personal growth, is nonlinear and ongoing, meaning that there will be many bumps along the way. You just have to be willing to take the ride.

"I know, I know, this may not be what you want to hear, but it’s important to know: When starting therapy, things may feel worse before they feel better," says Dr. Annie Wright, owner and clinical director of Evergreen Counseling:

I often describe beginning the work of therapy—particularly if you’re looking to explore and change some deeply held beliefs, thoughts, and patterns—as what might happen if you decide to tackle a thorough cleanout of an overly crammed closet you haven’t touched in years. When you begin the process of cleaning out the closet, you have to pull everything out and strew it about you on the floor. It may start to look like a big pile of chaos, and you may feel overwhelmed halfway through the project when you look around and see the mess around you. You may want to quit and you may regret having even started. But to get things really, properly cleaned and organized, you have to keep going. As you do, you can sort out what goes to the trash, what gets donated, what gets returned to the closet and better organized. In time, you’ll have finished the project but do know that there may be a point—or many points—when it feels worse before it feels better.

Therapy Also Happens In Between Sessions
While you'll be making small and big revelations in your sessions, it's important to carry your progress outside of your therapist's office. "It's important to work on oneself and not just think therapy is magically going to heal," says Dr. Sanam Hafeez.

If you're still having trouble getting started, be sure to check out this guide to different types of therapy and other frequently asked questions about therapy.

Screenshot via YouTube

The band shared details about their new St. Vincent-produced album that will drop "you into the world of catastrophe"

Sleater-Kinney just shared more information about their St. Vincent-produced album and dropped a new single.

Per Billboard, Sleater-Kinney revealed that their new album, which they've been teasing since early this year and will be their first since No Cities To Love from 2015, will be called The Center Won't Hold. It's due out on August 16 via Mom + Pop Records. "We're always mixing the personal and the political but on this record, despite obviously thinking so much about politics, we were really thinking about the person—ourselves or versions of ourselves or iterations of depression or loneliness—in the middle of the chaos," Carrie Brownstein said in a statement. Corin Tucker further noted that the new album will "[drop] you into the world of catastrophe that touches on the election."

Janet Weiss noted that the band will "explore a different sound palette" with this album, and pointed to St. Vincent as the reason behind it. She said that St. Vincent "has a lot of experience building her own music with keyboards and synthesizers so she could be our guide to help us make sense of this new landscape and still sound like us."

To satiate us until then, the band released a lyric video for new single, "The Future Is Here," which is very grungy. Bump it, below.

Sleater-Kinney - The Future Is Here (Official Lyric Video)


This is so satisfying!

Even Jon Snow knows just how unsatisfying the final season of Game of Thrones was, and he's ready to apologize. Well, a deepfake of him is at least. A heavily-edited version of Snow's speech from the fourth episode—just before the bodies of those lost in the Battle of Winterfell get burned—now features Snow apologizing for the conclusion of the show and lighting the script on fire.

"It's time for some apologies. I'm sorry we wasted your time," Snow begins. "And I know nothing made sense at the end. When the Starbucks cup is the smallest mistake, you know you fucked up! We take the blame. I'm sorry we wrote this in like six days or something," he adds, before signaling to his peers to light the script with torches and "just forget it forever." "Fuck Season 8," he says before the pages begin to crackle and burn.

If there were more lines left to alter, we would have loved to see Snow also tackle how messy Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister's story line ended up, as well as Bran's kingship, Cersei's boring demise, and the water bottle appearance.

Watch the entire deepfake and try to heal the wounds left by HBO below.


Photo by Darren Craig

It premieres today, exclusively via NYLON

In LP's song "Shaken," the most recent single from her 2018 record Heart To Mouth, she tells the story of seeing her lover out with someone else—ouch. Today, exclusively on NYLON, she releases a cheeky animated music video that pokes fun at the song's heightened drama and perfectly demonstrates all the angst that comes with falling hard for someone.

"She looks at you like I used to/ And I'm just sitting in the corner sh-sh-shaken," LP sings, as the visual—with art by Maayan Priva—depicts the singer hanging out in a bar, watching the girl she likes meet up with another girl. Despite the situation's inherent drama, "Shaken" is less of a ballad and more of an upbeat bop. LP told us she loves the way "this little video captures some of the fun of the song, and its inherent comical anxiety." Sure, heartbreak isn't that funny, but our (sometimes) overly dramatic reaction to it kind of is.

"'Shaken' feels like a bit of a wild card on this record," LP says. "It's the closest I've come to writing a musical, which I hope to do one day." We heartily endorse this idea: Please, LP, give us the queer jukebox musical we crave.

Until that day comes, though, you can watch the music video for "Shaken," below.

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Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures.

This cameo has the Beyhive buzzing

I went to see Men In Black: International alone. Which would have been fine if it wasn't for the shock I received when I saw two specific characters on the screen. Unable to keep it to myself, I shared a curious look with the stranger next to me, who was obviously thinking the same thing as me. "Is that them...?" I whispered first. "I think… so," she replied. Then the two men in question started to dance, and we were both sure: "Yep, that's them."

It was Laurent and Larry Nicolas Bourgeois, better known as Les Twins. Fans of Beyoncé will recognize the duo as the talented brothers who often accompany her on tour and in music videos. In Men In Black: International, the two of them play shapeshifting entities—they're more like energy forces than aliens—who pursue Tessa Thompson's and Chris Hemsworth's characters throughout the duration of the film. The twins' ability to manipulate their bodies in ways that are graceful and otherworldly really helps sell them as extraterrestrials and is fun to watch.

So if Thompson in a suit or Hemsworth shirtless weren't enough motivation, here's another reason to go see it. If you look close, you can see them in the trailer below.


Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

"I am honored to share this bonding experience with my own daughter"

In a heart-warming Instagram photo, Serena Williams shares the history of hair braiding and the importance of the tradition. The tennis player shared a photo of herself braiding her daughter Olympia Ohanian's hair and spoke about how "honored" she was to be able to "add another generation" to the tradition of the practice.

The photo shows Williams attentively braiding her daughter's hair while Olympia smiles, obviously loving the experience. Williams noted that hair braiding was created by the Himba people in Namibia, Africa, and that "we have been braiding our hair for centuries." "In many African tribes braided hairstyles were a unique way to identify each tribe," she continued.

Williams pointed out that braiding is a bonding experience. "People would often take the time to socialize," she wrote. "It began with the elders braiding their children, then the children would watch and learn from them. The tradition of bonding was carried on for generations, and quickly made its way across the world."

Williams closed her post with a sweet message about her daughter, saying that she's "honored to share this bonding experience" with her.

See the post, below.