Louis Litt is a man very particular about his Jewish ancestry and heritage. When he eventually decides to attend his first therapy session, the unusual nature of the therapist’s introduction sends his guard up. Dr. Lipschitz has a German accent and blood by extension. Already on edge, he doesn’t hesitate to make his grievances known, unleashing a barrage of unacceptable comments.
For a moment, Louis is prepared to lose his job if it means he doesn’t have to bare his heart out to a German. Dr. Lispchitz is as calm as a feather, offering a bit of his personal story – he is in fact Jewish, even if he has a German accent as a result of his upbringing – to help him identify with Louis’s predicament. He offers ice to Louis’ fire until he can get him to calm down and listen. While that doesn’t suffice, it is enough to buy him time to show Louis that he can help him out.
If you have seen the TV series, Suits, this scene is very familiar. In fact, it is one of the central relationships that guide the story arc of the series. In addition to the drama, Suits explores mental health in the workplace very closely and looks specifically at therapy. It shows the place of a long-term therapist in the life of a career professional. Due to how well the role is played and the relationship is explored (after all, it’s supposed to keep you engaged) it’s possible that your idea of good therapy has been shaped by the interaction between Louis and Dr Lipschitz. In some ways, you are right. However, there are other things that might have informed your idea of therapy. The conversation about therapy sessions within your immediate society might be a stronger influence. For Louis, it was.
Granted, not everyone has seen Suits. Even those who have might still have issues meeting with a clinical psychologist to access therapy. That’s why this article is important. The article will explain why therapy might be the key to the big break you need. It will help you set your expectations for therapy and provide clarity to some of the questions you might have about.
Your first therapy session might not be as dramatic as Louis’s, but you can get uncomfortable really fast. That’s because you might be doing something you have never done in your life. One of which is confronting or exploring some of the deepest issues you might have hidden away with a stranger.
Louis Litt is a high-potential lawyer in a top law firm in New York City. His first therapy session accidentally coincides with the moment he becomes a junior partner. If you are not conversant with law terminologies, think of it like this: an employee with loads of potential has just been made a junior manager. For you, you might be at any stage of your career track, and you want to find balance, create value and get rewarded for the value you are providing.
Many people, like Louis Litt and especially men, believe that therapy is for the emotionally weak or mentally ill. In fact, the two major male characters in the series; Harvey Specter and Louis Litt needed convincing and threat, respectively to access therapy.
Dr. Folajaiye Kareem, one of the clinical psychologists who contributed to this article, pointed this out as one of the numerous misconceptions about therapy. In fact, it is the most popular. Admitting that you need external help to make progress in an area of your life is a remarkable show of strength. This means you have the ability to identify areas where you struggle and reach out for help.
You might be contemplating having therapy for a number of reasons. Let’s start from the simple ones. You could have seen it in a movie/TV series like Suits and had an epiphany. Someone who cares enough about you might have recommended it. Maybe your boss who believes in your potential has seen your performance drop over the last few weeks. They think it might help you get back on track.
In an interview, Dr Gabriel Oluwaseun Olorunkoya, a clinical psychologist noted:
“People need therapy for various reasons, some need therapy to deal with major life transitions, unhelpful thoughts or to gain insight into an issue. Some might need therapy to unlearn maladaptive coping skills and learn adaptive coping skills. Anyone practically can be said to need therapy at any point in their lives.”
An x-ray of Louis’ life shows us exactly what Dr. Oluwaseun means. Louis is dealing with some messy situations in his life, and he is nearly out of control. His fiancée had broken up with him and the person he admired most at work would not speak to him. He resorted to some ineffective strategies to cope or compensate which portrayed his need for help.
Stress and stress-related disorders,
Difficulty with concentration
Dealing with a personal issue that is affecting your mental health
Inability to figure out a way to deal properly with a workplace challenge
Difficulty with figuring out how to achieve a work-life balance that works for you
Need someone to help you with clarity or trauma
Struggling with dealing with any change in your life
If you are a leader and looking out for mental health policies that can help you easily identify when your teammate needs help, we’ve got you. We have extensively covered work policies that can help improve employee mental health .
Dr. Chris Abojei, a clinical psychologist has provided an expansive list of some other issues therapy can help with:
If you maintain successful human relationships, you have had therapy. Conflict is a major part of maintaining fruitful relationships. If you have sought someone’s advice or intervention to help, then you’ve had therapy. At different points in our lives, our parents, loved ones, and friends have played the role of Dr. Lipschitz. The nights out in the bar, the heart-to-heart session, and the intervention sessions your friends threw to help you recover from a breakup.
A therapist is not a magician or a mind reader. He is not your counselor and is not your puppet. He is not your friend or your enemy. A therapist is a trained professional who offers treatment or counseling for various mental and physical issues.
As you get ready for your first therapy session, it would be nice to go over a few things with you. To do that, we have asked the opinions of renowned therapists. Their comments and answers will help set the bar for what you should expect at your first therapy session.
FAQ 1: What will a therapy session do for you?
Folajaiye Kareem: It should help you gain clarity & and stability in relation to your productivity, relationships and functionality.
Chisom Chiegboka: Help you process life events from an objective perspective. Also helps you find solutions to challenges and live better.
Chris Abojei: A therapy session should provide you with a supportive and safe environment to explore your thoughts, emotions, and challenges.
FAQ 2: Are all therapists right for me?
Chris Abojei: No, not all therapists are the right fit for every individual. The therapeutic relationship is a crucial factor in the effectiveness of therapy. Finding a therapist who aligns with your needs, preferences, and personality is important.
FAQ 3: How Do I know I’m in the right place?
Chris Abojei: Knowing that you’re in the right therapeutic environment involves a combination of factors that contribute to your comfort, progress, and overall well-being. Therapy is a collaborative process, and the journey is unique to each individual. It’s natural to have ups and downs, and progress may not always be linear.
Orudupa Oyetunde: When you feel relief from the issues you are facing as an individual.
Folajaiye Kareem: When you can verify the certification, expertise, experience and specialization of the person you’re consulting.
Gabriel Oluwaseun: When you feel safe to deal with issues that are distressing to you without feeling judged. It is also when you gain insights into issues you thought were overwhelming for you. You can know you are in the right place when you start unlearning maladaptive coping skills to learn the adaptive ones.
FAQ 4: How vulnerable should I be in my first therapy session?
Chris Abojei: Being vulnerable in your first therapy session is a personal decision and depends on your comfort level. Opening up in therapy can be difficult, but a good therapist will respect your pace. They will also create a safe environment for you to share at your own pace.
Chisom Chiegboka: As vulnerable as you can be.
Folajaiye Kareem: Vulnerability is a two-way thing. You should feel as vulnerable as the environment your therapist creates.
FAQ 5: Will my therapy session be comfortable?
Chris Abojei: The comfort level of your therapy session depends on several factors. Examples are your preferences, the therapist’s approach and style, and your emotional state. Sometimes, therapy can be uncomfortable but can lead to personal growth and improved well-being over time. If you feel consistently uncomfortable or unsafe, discuss your feelings with your therapist or consider finding a different one.
Chisom Chiegboka: Depends on what each party brings to the table. Is the environment comfortable? Can you relax enough to share?
Folajaiye Kareem: Yes. If the therapist has great rapport-building skills.
Jumoke Esther: Yes. Your therapy session should be comfortable as this helps to create an environment of safety and confidence.
FAQ 6: What should I do if I’m not comfortable with my therapist?
Chisom Chiegboka: Discuss with them and ask for a referral. It is your right to express the way you feel and your therapist’s job to ensure you feel comfortable.
Folajaiye Kareem: Express your concern, watch for improvements, and if you don’t see any, look for a more suitable therapist.
FAQ 7: Is there a thing as a therapy fit?
Chisom Chiegboka: There is. But be careful about transference and countertransference.
Folajaiye Kareem: Yes, because people have different approaches and perspectives to therapy.
FAQ 8: How many therapy sessions do I need before I recover?
Chris: It depends on the assessment, what you are being managed for, your openness to treatment as well as the technique being used and the skills of the therapists.
Chisom Chiegboka: You and your therapist set the time. It may increase or decrease depending on if you are doing the work.
FAQ 9: What are some red flags I should watch out for during a therapy session?
It’s important to be aware of red flags during therapy sessions to ensure you receive ethical care. If you notice any red flags, consider discussing your concerns with your current therapist or finding a different one. Some of the red flags in therapy are itemized in the image below.
FAQ 10: What are some signs of recovery?
Here are some common signs of recovery that you might notice during therapy:
Folajaiye Kareem: When there’s an improvement in how you think, feel and act, in relation to how healthy your relationships, career and livelihood become.
It’s important to note that recovery is not always linear. There might be setbacks along the way, but progress is still being made.
FAQ 11: What if a therapy session doesn’t help me?
Chris Abojei: If you find that a therapy session or a series of sessions doesn’t seem to be helping you, it’s important to assess the situation and consider your options. Not all therapeutic approaches or therapists will be the right fit for everyone, and it’s okay to explore different avenues to find the support that best suits your needs. You can also reassess your goals.
Folajaiye Kareem: Be persistent, trust the process and only switch after a period of inconsiderable progress.
FAQ 12: Can I change my therapist in the middle of my recovery?
Chris: Yes, you can
FAQ 13: What’s the difference between a therapist and a counsellor?
Chris Abojei: The terms “therapist” and “counsellor” are often used interchangeably, but there can be some differences in how they’re used depending on the context and location. In general, both therapists and counsellors provide mental health support and guidance to individuals, couples, or groups. However, the specific roles, training, and focus areas can vary.
Folajaiye Kareem: A therapist is trained and constrained to use Clinically proven methods through evidence-based research while a counselor uses any means to achieve the treatment goal.
Help comes in different forms. When people struggle with issues they should handle easily, it’s a sign that something is wrong. If after a while they can’t figure out the exact thing that is wrong, therapy might be an excellent recommendation.
Gabriel Oluwaseun Olorunkoya is a Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist with expertise in different areas of mental health such as depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar, substance use disorders, sleep disorders, and Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) to mention a few.
Olotu Jumoke Esther is a trained and licensed Clinical Psychologist with the Nigerian Association of Clinical Psychologists (NACP), the International Society of Substance Use Professionals (ISSUP), and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Folajaiye Kareem is a Clinical Psychologist
Chisom Chiegboka is a Clinical Psychologist and Sales Professional
Oridupa Yetunde is an M.sc graduate of Clinical Psychology at the University of Ibadan who did his psychological training at University College Hospital Ibadan and Neuropsychiatric Hospital Aro, Abeokuta.
Chris Abojei is a licensed clinical psychologist and certified Employee Assistance Program (EAP) advisor.