5 Things to Consider When Searching for a Therapist

So you’ve decided you’re ready to see a therapist, good for you! No seriously, that’s great. Maybe you’re still on the fence about seeing one, that’s ok too! Now comes the task of finding that perfect stranger to share your most personal thoughts and feelings to. I realize this task may sound scary and even impossible, but it can be done. I recently saw a therapist for the first time and had an amazing experience. I’ve listed exactly what I took into consideration before making my final decision, it is my hope that by sharing I can make the task a bit easier for you. 

How Can I Afford Services? 

This is the very first thing I considered in my search for a therapist. It’s the very first thing because I assumed therapy to be crazy expensive. I also didn’t think that therapists took insurance -honestly, I don’t know why. Well lucky for us, therapy can be affordable and you can use insurance. If you do have insurance, either call your insurance provider or look on your insurance website to see who is in your network. Just as a visit to your doctor, you may be required to pay a copay. I would also recommend looking to see if your workplace offers an “Employee Assistance Program” and if you’re able to utilize it. These programs usually offer short-term counseling, but it’s definitely a start. So maybe you don’t have insurance, there is always the option to pay out of pocket. Even then, I would recommend looking for therapist who offers a sliding scale fee.  A sliding scale fee simply means that you will be charged based on your income. For my college/grad students, many universities offer counseling services that are funded by your tuition.

What Am I Looking to Work On?

Depression, Anxiety, PTSD? It’s important to have some idea about what you’re seeking therapy for. Not all therapists specialize in the same mental health disorders/issues. As you go through your list of potential therapists, either call or look to see if they have a website. They will provide information as to what they specialize in and what areas they have the most expertise in. Many therapists are experienced in many different areas of mental health, a jack of all trades! This is great because you may have more than one thing to work on, at different points of your life.

Is This Therapist Licensed? 

Many people can call themselves a counselor, therapist, or life-coach. These terms can be used loosely sometimes. Being licensed means the individual has earned hours in a clinical setting as well as passed a licensing exam. You’ll usually find their credentials and licensing information on their website. There are many different professionals that offer therapy and have gone through schooling to be able to provide services. Just to name a few; Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC). Students, be mindful that in a university counseling center, there may be interns offering services as a way to gain clinical hours. You have to decide if you are ok with working with someone who is not yet licensed.

What is This Therapist’s Approach to Therapy? 

This was a very important one for me. It’s helpful to know a therapists philosophy on therapy, as well as what therapies they use. You can find this information on their website or by calling. Believe it or not, no therapist is the same. They are all unique human beings with their own ways of thinking and doing things. As I was going through the website of the therapist I chose, I came across a “Common Questions” section. One question was “Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems”. Her answer was, “Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you’ve faced, there’s nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you’re at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.” As soon as I read that, I was hooked. Knowing that she felt that way about therapy made me feel a lot better about wanting to talk to someone.

Who Am I Comfortable Talking To?

Again, every therapist is different. Do you need someone to show you tough love or do you need someone to gently nudge you towards change? Do you want to talk to someone that looks like you or are you open to diversity? I personally was very interested in seeing a black therapist. My reason for that was because in my graduate program, I haven’t had the opportunity of learning from and working under many therapists of color. Everyone has their own preferences and that’s perfectly fine. I say be open minded. If something or someone isn’t working, be willing to change and adapt.  

I hope that this list has or will help you in your search for a therapist. If you’re still on the fence, I hope I’ve pushed you over a little bit, lol. One very important thing I would like to point out is that you may go through a few different therapists. THAT IS PERFECTLY OK. You may not vibe or connect with the very first one, but please please please don’t be discouraged. 

If you have any questions about therapy or therapists, please leave a comment or contact me. Also, feel free to share your experiences in therapy. I’d love to hear from you!

Check out my previous post about my personal experience seeing a therapist!

https://kurlsandkonversation.com/2018/12/22/first-time-experience-seeing-a-therapist/

A special shout-out to shikaardeta for suggesting I make this kind of post. Check out her amazing blog here! 

https://shikaardeta.wordpress.com

10 Must-Haves for Natural Hair

I swear having natural hair is a full-time job. Ok maybe part-time, but either way it takes some work. It takes even more work when you don’t know what products to use. I’ve listed 10 things that I feel make life easier as well as give you great hair. These are products that I can’t go without and feel work for every curl type. I’ve also included links to specific products that I use.

Sulfate-Free Shampoo

Sulfate is a cleansing agent and it produces that lather effect. While sulfate makes your hair and scalp feel squeaky clean, it can also be harmful. Sulfate strips hair of everything, including natural oils that are needed. Sulfate also drys out hair and makes it frizzy.

https://www.sallybeauty.com/hair/hair-care/shampoo/superfoods-quench-shampoo/SBS-377036.html?list=Home%7CWhats_new

Sulfate-Free Conditioner

After you use the shampoo to cleanse your hair, you’ll need this product to restore moisture. If a brand has a shampoo then there is most likely a coordinating conditioner (though not usually sold together). I don’t typically mix and match shampoos and conditioners but that’s just a personal choice.

https://www.sallybeauty.com/hair/hair-care/conditioner/superfoods-quench-conditioner/SBS-377037.html?list=Home%7CWhats_new

Tangle Tamer

You need something that is going to detangle your hair without ripping and tearing it. A Tangle Tamer has a lot more teeth than a wide-tooth comb, so it detangles and distributes product to every single strand. I use my tangle tamer in the shower while my conditioner is in. 

https://www.sallybeauty.com/hair/brushes-and-combs/tangle-tamer-max/PLGDIN17.html?list=Search_Results#q=tangle+tamer&start=1

360 Mist Spray Bottle

Your hair needs to be moisturized often so it helps to have a water bottle handy. It’s especially helpful when you’re styling your hair and need to re-wet it. This particular water bottle is great because it sprays a fine mist of water that is evenly distributed across your hair. My favorite part about it is that it sprays a continuous mist, so no constant pumping like with a traditional spray bottle.

https://www.sallybeauty.com/salon-equipment-and-furniture/salon-accessories/spray-and-applicator-bottles/360-mist-sprayers/SLNCAR77.html?list=Search_Results#q=360&start=1

Deep Conditioner 

Deep conditioning is extremely important for us natural girls! Deep conditioners usually stay in the hair for a limited amount of time and are then rinsed out. Benefits of deep conditioning include; hydration, reduced split-ends, stronger hair, hair growth, and added shine. I deep condition once a week. 

https://www.sallybeauty.com/hair/hair-care/textured-hair/curly-hair/intensive-hydration-masque/SBS-476432.html

Deep Conditioning Cap

Yes, this is a cap that you wear while deep conditioning. It’s not the most fashionable accessory, but it helps to trap heat inside. The heat helps the conditioner to deeply penetrate your hair. 

https://www.sallybeauty.com/hair/hair-accessories/platinum-deep-conditioning-cap/SBS-543908.html?list=Search_Results#q=cap&start=1

Leave-In Conditioner 

A leave-in conditioner is a conditioner that is left in the hair, no rinsing needed. Every leave-in has its own benefits so choose one based on what you feel your hair needs. I always use a leave-in, and consider it to be like a “primer” or “base” for my styling products. 

https://www.sallybeauty.com/hair/hair-care/textured-hair/coily-hair/leave-in-conditioner/SBS-341201.html?list=Search_Results#q=as+i+am&start=1

Essential and Natural Oil(s)

An essential oil would be tea tee oil, which helps with dry, itchy scalp. A natural oil would be castor oil, which promotes hair growth. There are many different oils with different benefits so again, choose based on what your hair needs. I use coconut oil for hot oil treatments. 

https://www.sallybeauty.com/hair/hair-care/treatments/coconut-black-castor-oil/SBS-175352.html?list=Search_Results#q=jamaican+black+castor+oil&start=1

Satin Pillowcase, Scarf, or Bonnet

You must sleep with something to protect your hair, and that something should be satin. Your hair can slide across satin without snagging, tearing, or becoming frizzy. You can use a satin pillowcase, scarf, or bonnet. Use all three if you’re a wild sleeper. I usually use a scarf and bonnet.

https://www.sallybeauty.com/hair/hair-accessories/large-satin-bonnet/SBS-378140.html?list=Search_Results#q=satin+bonnet&start=1

A Stylist That Knows Natural Hair 

If you want to maintain beautiful and healthy hair this is extremely important. A stylist that knows natural hair will; use appropriate techniques for cutting, give you a good shape, use products that work well for your hair, and be knowledgeable about natural hair care. My stylist is in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but feel free to check out her insta!

https://www.instagram.com/lynn.styless/

I hope you found my list helpful! If you have any questions about the products or natural hair in general, leave a comment! 

2019, I’m Ready For You

2018 wasn’t my finest year, and for the past few months I had been constantly thinking to myself “God, I can’t wait for this year to be over”. My year consisted of struggling financially, working at a job that I hated, and having a hard time mentally and emotionally. I was so ready to put this bad year behind me, and never look back.

A few days ago, while drinking my morning coffee, I started wondering if trying to forget everything that happened this year was helpful or even sensible. I also questioned what would make 2019 such a better year than 2018. I realized that instead of trying to erase 2018 from my memory, I could take some time to really reflect on what happened. Instead of just waiting around for the new year, I could be actively planning for an amazing 2019. 

I reflected on my trials and tribulations and in doing so, I couldn’t help but to feel grateful and determined. I felt grateful because not only did I make it through some hard times, but I learned some very valuable lessons along the way. I felt determined because I realized that I am in control of my life and I can manifest the things that I desire. I thought long and hard about things that I wanted and why. I went on to write down my goals for 2019, and made plans for how I would achieve them. 

After much self-reflection, and goal setting I decided that there were a few more things to do in order to get ready for the new year…

Deep clean

Deep cleaning my apartment always makes me feel like my life is together. In fact, when my place is messy, that can be a sign that I’m not in a good place mentally or emotionally. I put on some loud music and thoroughly cleaned each room of my apartment. 

Declutter

I felt that by decluttering I was making room for happiness, peace, freedom, and creativity in my life. Basically I got rid of anything that was useless and unnecessary. I went through my filing boxes, drawers, closets, cabinets, fridge, computer files, and emails. 

Burn some sage

Sage is known for purifying and creating a positive environment. Seeing as though it was my first time, I had to watch some youtube videos but it’s pretty simple to do. I lit one end on fire, blew it out, and then walked around my entire apartment.

I’ve never felt so excited and ready for the new year. 

2018, thank-you for all your lessons and opportunities for growth. 2019, I’m coming for everything that’s mine.

First Time Experience: Seeing a Therapist

Since the very beginning of my graduate program, professors have suggested the students see a therapist at least once. I remember thinking “I just want to be a therapist, I don’t want to see one”.  As I became more knowledgable on the topic of mental health and wellness, I began to realize that the suggestion was not so crazy after all. Then finally came the time when my own mental well-being was in jeopardy.

Think of mental health as a continuum. On the far left you have “mental well-being” and on the far right you have “mental illness”. Well in September of 2018, I was slowly but surely sliding on over to the right. Each day I slid a little bit more until finally, I had an emotional breakdown at work (in private, Thank God). I decided “Ok, it may be time to talk to someone”.

Honestly, I wasn’t too sure if I was depressed. All I knew is that something was wrong. Crying every day, feeling unmotivated, and constant negative thoughts was not healthy.

I started my search by going to my health insurance website. I was given a list of therapists that were in my network and would take my insurance. I went through each listing and went to their website (if they even had one). I researched their education background, what disorders they specialized in, and what methods of treatment they used. It was important to me to find a therapist of color, so I looked for that as well. 

I found one that looked promising and contacted her. We spoke briefly about what was going on and scheduled an appointment for the next day. I was so nervous the night before and even thought about cancelling because what if I wasn’t even depressed? What if I was wasting her time and my time? Then my boyfriend assured me that I was making the right decision. He said something along the lines of “Therapy is like prayer, you don’t only have to use it when something is really wrong”. Amen.

I went to my first session at 9:00 AM the next morning, and from that very first session she told me that she didn’t believe me to be depressed. She did however, believe that I was having a hard time mentally and emotionally. 

So, I wasn’t clinically depressed but let me tell you the reasons I went on to see her a few more times…

I did not lie on a couch while being asked “So how does that make you feel?” every two minutes

I don’t know why therapy is portrayed that way. That is not how any of this works. 

I was able to talk freely about my issues without being judged

Sometimes friends, family, and significant others can end up being judgmental without necessarily trying to. Plus, it’s helpful to get perspective from someone other than them. 

I didn’t feel like my issues were being minimized 

Example: “Mom, I’m sad” “you ain’t got nothing to be sad about, you got a roof over your head”.

I got to talk about different aspects of my life

I went for a specific problem but I was asked about my friends, family, boyfriend, work, and school. It was helpful to address all those areas of my life as well.

I felt like I was being listened to 

We’re talking about active listening here, not everyone has that skill.

I was allowed to cry

It’s nice to cry without feeling dumb or feeling compelled to apologize for it. 

I was challenged 

Yes, therapists should be empathetic and understanding. They should also give feedback and challenge you to new ways of thinking and behaving.

I felt comfortable 

My therapist was a black woman. She was very personable. Our conversation flowed easily. Her office was really cute and felt very welcoming. 

I feel very lucky to have had a great first experience seeing a therapist. I feel that I was properly helped and still keep in mind the things that I learned. I would, without a doubt, go back should I feel I need to. In my personal opinion, everyone could benefit from talking to a professional. We are all human beings with either issues, hard times, past traumas, dysfunctional thoughts, bad habits, unhealed wounds, or toxic behaviors. Some of us battle with these things more than others. Some of us deal with these things better than others. 

Therapy is not bad. Therapy is not only for certain people. Therapy does not make you weak. 

Log Off and Level Up

One thing about social media is that you really only see the best parts of people’s lives. Of course it’s hard to remember that when you feel your life isn’t exactly going the way you would like. Everyone else’s accomplishments can be a reminder of what you have yet to achieve. The things that other people have can be a reminder of what you lack. 

The end of 2018 was a difficult time for me. Nothing major happened to me per say, but I was struggling and dealing with some set-backs. I was overwhelmed. I was unhappy. I was very unmotivated. Due to being unmotivated, I spent a great deal of time scrolling through social media and ultimately ended up making myself feel worse. I was trapped in this cycle of distracting myself with insta and twitter, seeing how great everyone else’s life appeared to be, and then feeling even worse about my life. I was so consumed by what was wrong, what I didn’t have, and what I hadn’t yet achieved. 

After about three weeks of feeling absolutely horrible, I decided to take a break from my various social media sites. I took time to find solutions to my problems, instead of just feeling sorry for myself. I began working out, reading, and singing again. I even got the inspiration to start this blog. I began to feel love for myself again. I was reminded of all the great things I was doing and have done. I decided that I had control over my life. I was not a victim of anything or anyone.

Here are some things that worked for me during that difficult time, try them out should you find yourself going through something similar…

Take a break from social media from time to time 

Even when you aren’t taking a break, balance social media and offline life

Connect with real people in your life in meaningful ways 

Pray and/or meditate 

Engage in hobbies or activities that you enjoy

Take time to focus on and evaluate your life moves/goals

If you think you may need to see a therapist, just try it

Be grateful for who and what you have in your life in this very moment

Remember that you’re exactly where you need to be