I made an appointment to see a psychologist on Friday. It’s the first therapy appointment I’ve made in almost two years. I spent many years in therapy, so it only takes me about 5-10 minutes to see if a therapist is worth a follow up appointment. I have my preferences (middle-aged, straightforward, and sarcastic is a huge plus) although I have been known to see someone who’s not necessarily my type when there was “something there”. I try to remain open minded but I have a few deal breakers (asking me the same question over and over, being overly sympathetic, being emotional, etc.) which I rarely budge on, especially if they’re out of network.
As I revisited the lineup of therapists I’ve seen over the past 17 years, both good and bad, I realized that finding the right therapist is a lot like finding the right partner. Intake appointments are like first dates, which can be promising or major letdowns, and finding “the one” is like winning the jackpot. Like most things in life, it’s all about chemistry; do we mesh or do we not?
Here are some of the similarities I’ve found between therapy and dating:
Are they a doctor? A social worker? An internet certified crazy person?? What letters are after or before their name? Does that even matter? I’m looking for a connection here, titles don’t matter all that much.
The First Look
Old? Young? That guy looks like Jesus…is that bad? Thanks to ZocDoc, much like Tinder, you can get a glimpse of your potential “one” ahead of time. But unlike Tinder, ZocDoc lets you rate these contenders so you can get the tea ahead of time. Too bad Tinder doesn’t do the same.
Are they going to talk about themselves or ask me questions first? Do they keep referencing other people and comparing me to them? Ugh, their ex/other patient is nothing like me, I wish they’d stop brining them up. Wait…are they playing on their phone??? I CAN SEE YOU.
They just keep nodding at me, are they even listening? Do they care? Do I want them to care? I need a little banter, especially if I start to get emotional or “overly passionate” (aka crazy). Let’s get some conversation going and not just me reciting every negative experience of my life. And stop asking about my mother.
Do I want to see them again? Did they get me? How much did this time cost me? I said I would see them again, but do I want to? I need a minute…
Although it’s been a while since I was in the dating world, searching for a therapist was oddly reminiscent of scrolling (I didn’t make it to swiping) through potential matches. When you think about it, a partner and a therapist can fulfill a lot of the same needs; the need to be heard, the need to be validated, and the need to be calmed when irrationally angry. And just like with dating, the search can take a lot of trial and error and requires a good amount of energy.
So if this one doesn’t work out for me I need to remember not to give up and that there’s always another therapist in the sea.