What should I tell my new counsellor?
October 24, 2011 7:55 PM Subscribe
I'm considering therapy for the first time. How to clearly express what I want to work through there, and what to expect? Snowflake details inside.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a grad student in Canada, with access to free therapy on campus. I've been thinking about therapy for some time now, and the end of a relationship and the approach of winter have given me the push I need to just go already. Basically, I have two concerns, and I'd like to know whether I should be addressing both of them, or only one, and working through the other in different ways.
The first is dealing with, possibly, SAD. I'm from Western Europe, but I've lived in Canada for six years and in this city for nearly four. I find the winters here terribly long (the weather is dark and wintry well into May), and dealing with it seems to get a little harder every year. This year I've decided to be proactive in fighting it. Starting in September I've taken up jogging, am eating better, have committed to going out with friends at least twice a week, am taking vitamin D and am trying to find a cheap lightbox should I need it. Would therapy be helpful and appropriate in allowing me to discuss strategies to overcome negative thoughts and lack of hope during the winter?
The second is dealing with anxiety. I've dealt some degree of anxiety and obsessive worrying about one thing or another for most of my life. It's never stopped me from functioning, and I've actually become much better and more mellow since coming to Canada, and in particular over the last year or two.
However: I suspect that I've inherited it from my dad, who worries constantly about the most trivial things, and in particular anything to do with me (e.g. even now that I am 27, he will ring me up in the middle of the night, his time, because he starts to worry that a throwaway comment of mine means that I am ill/I am having problems with a friend/Something Is Wrong and becomes unable to sleep). He has always had a bit of an anxious temperament, but focused strongly on me as the target of his anxieties when I was born (I am an only child). We are very close, and I love him, but has been hard for me to draw and enforce boundaries about privacy with him because he becomes miserable when he can't assuage his worries. Therapy is out of the question for him: to a person of his age and culture, it simply isn't done.
I'd like to have kids someday, but even though I'm dealing well with my own anxieties, I'm a bit afraid that I'd going to turn out like him and become a big ball of crazy worry were I to become a mother. This has sort of been at the back of my mind for a while, but dating (and breaking up with) a guy with his own anxiety disorder made me feel that I should talk to someone about it now while I can still get the free campus counselling, and before I get into my next relationship. Basically I'd like to get advice on how to get a good reality check, and how to avoid lurching into paranoia in situations (like raising children) where erring on the side of caution is usually a good thing.
Would my uni's counselling centre be useful for dealing with both things? Am I making a mountain out of a molehill for either one? I've found out that counselling starts off with a half-hour triage-type session to determine what kind of counselling will be needed; what should I say? And what should I expect?