Looking for first time therapy tips + therapist recommendations in Vancouver.
March 30, 2012 2:16 PM   Subscribe

I've come to the conclusion that some therapy/counselling would help me a lot, but as a life-long introvert I find the idea very intimidating and nerve-wracking. Looking for tips and encouragement on starting therapy, and recommendations for a good, preferably female and affordable, therapist in Vancouver BC.

I've had what I think are some definite issues throughout most of my life. On a few occasions, I've fallen into deep pits of gloom for a few months at a time that seem similar to depressive episodes. I get anxious a lot, especially around strangers, and have a concern about my health that verges on hypochondria. I'm also at a confused "quarter life crisis" period right now where I'm not sure what to do with my life, and my anxiety about it is getting a bit out of control to point where I go on long crying jags. I don't like telling people these things, but I recently had a very drunk, cathartic conversation with my friend where he suggested that I really need to talk to someone, and he's probably right.

Unfortunately I am very, very uncomfortable talking about my feelings and rarely do, and the thought of going to a therapist makes me pretty anxious. Of course these feelings just seem like part of the reason I need to talk to one in the first place. As stupid as it is, just going to a therapist makes me feel like a 'damaged', 'crazy' woman and that I'm admitting that I have issues, while I've spent all my life trying to hide them. Any advice about getting over this first hurdle will be very much appreciated.

I would also like a recommendation for a therapist in Vancouver. I am a young woman (25), and would feel more comfortable with a female therapist but this is not necessary. I mainly just want someone who is understanding and unintimidating, and who will not push medications right away (I'm willing to take them if necessary but anti-depressants make me nervous). I am also not in school, and don't have a job with benefits, so I would prefer someone affordable. I don't even know how much I would expect to pay for therapy. I live in the downtown area but I can go pretty much anywhere within the city as long as it's accessible by public transit.

Thank you so much, in advance.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Speaking as someone who's been in and out of therapy periodically, as needed, for a long time, I think the most crucial thing is to find a therapist you trust and like. If you don't like the therapist's manner or personality, you won't get much out of therapy and the therapist will not help you solve your problems. Another thing: in your first session, tell the therapist about your anxiety right off the bat. Anxiety is by no means a unique response to the notion of starting therapy.

I'm not crazy, and I don't think I'm terribly damaged, but I do have issues. So does every other person in the entire universe and probably some chimps and dolphins too. It's not a big deal. Look at it this way. Some people use the gym as a tool to help solve the problem of overweight or lack of fitness; you could think of therapy as a tool to help you solve the problems that you feel you have.

Embarking on therapy might be one of those things where the anticipation is far worse than the reality. Best of luck to you.
posted by scratch at 2:29 PM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

As a fellow introvert who's been through a lot of therapy: GO! The stereotypical 'talk about your feelings' therapy is BS. Therapy offers a thousand different things that aren't in the stereotype.

You start by describing interactions, other people, etc., and as you become more comfortable, then you naturally start talking about how you feel about these things. If you feel like you trust the therapist (and if you don't, find another), then you should feel safe talking about things that you otherwise don't.

Also, a good therapist can serve as a 'mentor' in coming to terms with shit from your past: she recommends books to read, gives you 'homework' of different types, etc.
posted by tippiedog at 2:32 PM on March 30, 2012

If you are more comfortable writing about your feelings, or talking from a distance, you might try online therapy. There are various methods - email, IM, Skype. Sometimes it can act as a sort of gateway to IRL therapy (particularly if you find a therapist who offers both) and sometimes it's ok in itself. In my experience it is usually also a bit cheaper. There are of course disadvantages as well as possible advantages to online therapy - MeMail me if you'd like more of my perspective on this.

You might also explore CBT, which as I understand it has less of a direct focus on exploring feelings (though that is still important), more of an emphasis on shifting one's patterns of thoughts, and more structure, which might help you feel less anxious about the process.
posted by paduasoy at 2:48 PM on March 30, 2012

OP, I would highly recommend Lydia Kwa: http://www.psychologists.bc.ca/users/lydiakwa

Her office is in Gastown. I'm also very introverted and have a tough time talking about my feelings, and she is extremely patient and understanding and willing to let the client do the "driving" in a session.

The only tip I have is to sit down a bit the night before and think of the points you want to make. I get a little flustered in therapy, or easily side-tracked. Plus having the wording sorted out ahead of time, even just to get the conversation started, gives me extra courage. :)
posted by jess at 3:22 PM on March 30, 2012

I worked through some stuff a few years ago with Dr. Ellen Domm. She's local (on West Broadway in Kits) and sounds like she'd meet your criteria.

If my memory serves, I think I paid $150 a session, but I also had insurance. I'm not sure what she does as far as reductions/scale pricing in situations where someone doesn't, but it sure can't hurt to ask- she is/was a university prof so that may hopefully inform her attitude toward helping out someone with a student's income. I'm in no position to speak for her on that front, obviously.

Anyway, good luck to you. With the right guidance I'm sure you'll surprise yourself in a very good way.
posted by area.man at 3:32 PM on March 30, 2012

A halfway decent therapist will be used to working with strong introverts and nervous people. Needing help does NOT make you crazy/damaged/etc. We all do, from time to time. I know my own therapist sees everybody from students to doctors to billion dollar company execs to priests to homemakers. Nthing, if you dont like the therapist, FIND ANOTHER.

Honestly? You do have issues. This pretty much means nothing other than you are human. Accepting the fact that you do, in fact, have these things that bottling them up till you explode...probably... isnt good for you... and deciding to face them (which, I know, takes courage) is a very big step. You can do it! :)

I understand how meds can be scary and a huge pain. They also still have a little social stigma attatched. However, modern day meds are very good at what they do, and Doctors understand them better. It may take a trial or five to get the right med, but they can be extremely helpful. Therapy + meds is often what works best. YMMV, of course, but if you were my patient, I would certinaly explore the meds issue with you, ideally at the pace you were comfortable with.

Therapy varies in price. I've found it for as low as 5 dollars (sliding scale!) and as high as 'are you nuts?' Personally, I find very little difference in male vs female therapists. Each therapist has their own personality and style of therapy, of course.

So, yeah, tl;dr: Please do go to therapy. Please do, when you are ready, consider meds. If you need anything else, feel free to mail me :)
posted by Jacen at 6:58 PM on March 30, 2012

I highly recommend Kim Burton. She's very patient and easy to talk to - not at all intimidating. She also really knows her stuff. Her office is on West Broadway.
posted by smilingtiger at 7:14 PM on March 30, 2012

You might want to call Family Services and see if you can get on their waitlist for therapy. Then it will be sliding scale.

If you are willing to pay around $100 a session (perhaps less if you ask about sliding scale), I have someone I can recommend in Fairview Slopes. Just send me a personal message.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 7:15 PM on March 30, 2012

Here is the website for Family Services of Greater Vancouver.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 9:06 PM on March 30, 2012

Looking for tips and encouragement on starting therapy

Therapy isn't about social interaction; it's about gaining a richer understanding of your internal life, with guidance. This will make you a better introvert.
posted by eddydamascene at 10:56 PM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

A therapist isn't there to judge you or to make you feel bad. Their entire CAREER is based upon helping people to resolve their issues; that's what they're there for. Recognize that your guilt and shame is coming from YOURSELF, not the therapist (or if it IS coming from the therapist, pick a new one), and understand that they've seen people WAY "worse" than you.

Also, as a lifelong introvert who didn't understand that introversion was totally fine until very, very recently, faving eddydamascene's comment repeatedly.
posted by agress at 5:26 AM on March 31, 2012

Caren Durante was the first therapist I ever saw years ago and helped me feel normalish instead of some big freak. Non-judgmental; is all about getting your feelings out so they don't stay trapped inside and cause anxiety. She has an office near Granville and Georgia. Ask her if she has any sliding scale spots available.

My advice is to try therapy for about a year and if it doesn't help your mood noticeably, start meds. I balked at the thought of meds for a long time..i wish i'd started them sooner.
posted by oceanview at 8:52 PM on March 31, 2012

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