The jagged path to coping and healing in the wide world of therapy

By Graduate Ambassador Serena Pergola, master's student in nursing and author of The Silver Lining: The Intersection of Sexual Assault and Anxiety Through the World of Gymnastics

Therapy is weird. Therapy is weird because the process of finding the right therapist for you is difficult.

The process begins with you searching the internet for the best-rated therapist. Then you read a bunch of reviews from their patients. Look through photos of them. Read about their degrees and their specialty. It’s weird. And I haven’t even gotten to the weirdest part: you do all of this just to end up face to face with a complete and total stranger that you are expecting to somehow 'heal' you. So I affirm, therapy is definitely weird. The thing is though, once you find the right therapist, it isn’t weird. In fact, it is wonderful, but that’s not to say that finding the right one is an easy task, because it is anything but easy.

Mental health is a sentiment that hits quite close to home for me, and it is something I spend conscious effort prioritizing in my life. While pursuing a graduate degree is not an easy feat and it is most definitely time-consuming and even exhausting at times, I find that when you feel you do not have the time to take a moment for yourself is exactly when it is most important to do just that. While it may feel impossible in the moment, when you take a step back and pour into yourself you will be reinvigorated to continue to pursue your wildest dreams. It may not be easy and it will not always be comfortable, but when we step into the feelings of discomfort and embrace them, we allow ourselves the opportunity to grow.

Therapy takes a certain level of trust, not only in your therapist and their capabilities to help you cope and heal, but also in yourself to stay true to your emotions. This is easier said than done and, oftentimes, is the main reason why therapy might be failing you. It is extremely difficult to admit to yourself that what you are feeling is justified, especially when others are denying you that justification. It is even more difficult to then speak this truth about your feelings into reality by sharing them with your therapist. Trusting is essential in the process of therapy, but even more essential is wanting to help yourself. You need to want to cope; you need to want to heal; you need to want to share, no matter how hard that can be at times.

Let me assure you that when you find the right therapist, it is definitely not weird. It is very emotional. It is exhausting at times. It is always empowering. It is constantly inspiring. But most of all, it is very far from weird. In fact, it is wonderful.

I hope this resonates with you and encourages you to prioritize your mental health as well, in whatever way feels right for you.

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