You have taken the first step and accepted that you need help for your stress, your anxiety, fatigue, trauma, emotional pain, etc. Or, you have just read my post as you ask yourself “Do I need counselling?” What’s next? Many of us don’t even know where or how to start therapy. Or how to find a therapist who can help you. Often, this next step can be so difficult to take that people go back to “I think I will just wait and see how the situation goes…” . This ambivalence often leaves individual feeling disempowered and lost.
I hope this post can help break down the process and make it less daunting. I hope this post can make you feel empowered so that you can get the help you so dearly need.
1. Think about your goals for therapy.
What are some specific areas you would like to work on? This would help you assess suitability of the services provided by the mental health professional you are engaging.
2. Get more information or referrals from trusted friends.
Maybe it was from several conversations with loved ones or friends that got you considering therapy. What you could do beyond that is to ask around if anyone has someone in mind who could help in your situation. There are so many resources out there in the community and with such a wide selection, we may feel overwhelmed by the options available. We could help ourselves by asking for recommendations or referrals.
If you are in Singapore and you are concerned about budget, you could seek help from the nearest Family Service Centre or Social Service Office, or a polyclinic and they could refer you to subsidised help from government/ restructured hospitals or even in-house mental health professionals.
There are also reputable non-profit or volunteer welfare organisations that charges based on sliding scale, like the Singapore Association for Mental Health, Care Corner or AWARE Singapore. There are also websites like The Therapy Platform or Safe Space that are private enterprises but with different charges and you could refer to them as well.
Due to the difficult circumstances that were brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, I have also launched a special package at a 4-session cap to help people manage their stress or problems at a low rate of $25/ session (the fifth session onwards will be charged at the usual rate).
So spend a little time to ask or look around to find what could meet your needs.
3. Contact the therapist or the clinic.
It definitely helps to get more information about how you can be helped. This could entail walking in to counselling centres to enquire, dropping an email or making a phone call just to find out more. Many therapists in private practice like me now offer free consultation calls for you to find out more about their services. What you could do, is to make full use of the no-obligations free consultation. By taking that first step to book that consultation call, you are moving yourself one step forward in your healing.
4. Ask as many questions as you can to find out if the services can meet your needs.
You are taking steps to care for your own mental health. It is important that you find someone who would have the aptitude and attitude to help you. Does this mental health professional have the knowledge and skills to work with your concerns? What is their approach? How can they help you? What would the frequency be like and what are the opening hours? What are the costs involved? What is the mode – face-to-face or online? How would you talking to them help you?
5. Observe the therapist’s presentation and also if you feel comfortable speaking with them.
You would not know for sure if the therapist would be the right fit to work with you until you commence the healing journey but the first interaction would give you some ideas whether they are relatable: their tone of voice, their therapeutic approach, their philosophy, how they carry themselves, how well they listen.
A big part of the effectiveness of therapy relies on the rapport and professional relationship you have with your therapist. Therapy will involve discussions about difficult problems and uncomfortable feelings so it is important that you feel safe and supported. You should also be able understand very well from your therapist the conditions for privacy and confidentiality (subject to clauses that the therapist should be able to explain that largely revolve around issues pertaining to harm to self, harm to others and crime). You will be sharing intimate details of your life and it is important that you can trust your therapist.
6. If you are comfortable with what you have found out, go ahead and try it out. You can terminate the counselling anytime.
Even if you choose to go ahead with a therapist, it does not mean that you cannot change your mind. If after a few sessions, you found them not a right fit or something was not working well, it would do you good to let your therapist know. They are trained to handle such situations and may even be able to point you to someone else who could be a better fit after understanding your needs better. Ultimately, therapists just want you to be helped.
Most of us are quicker to respond when we meet with physical ailments. We tend to seek medical attention more quickly for physical pains than when we have mental health issues or emotional pain. Mental health is health too and they can be alleviated when you reach out for help. Like seeing a doctor for chronic health issues, it may take a longer time to find out the root of your problem, treat them, heal and move on to maintaining well-being. Likewise, you may also need to see a few doctors before you can find the right one with the most appropriate that fit and help you, so have patience.
If you are interested to find out more about my services, go ahead and book a free 30-minute consultation call.