Let's Talk

How are you?

No really? How are you doing? What have you been doing lately? What is the best part of your day? What things are dragging you down? I’m just checking in, that’s all.

Also, it’s what I do with my therapist a few times a year.

Oh, and you should totally get one!


Didn’t you hear the great news? Therapy isn’t just for losers anymore!! It’s for winners too! And for those of us whose only aim is to place somewhere in the middle, and just enjoy the race.

I don’t care what this makes you think of me, I could not survive my everydays without knowing I have a therapist just a phone call away. When we moved a thousand miles from home while I was eight months pregnant? I found myself a THERAPIST before I found a gynecologist. Anyone can deliver a baby in the back of a taxi, but it takes a special person to help you own how cool that would actually be. I mean, you would always trump anyone else’s birth story! (that’s for those of you who are actually trying to win the race.)

Oh, and then my therapist told me to go straight home and find myself a gynecologist before she had me committed.

Also, has anyone called 911 today? It’s okay, you can tell me…


This week? Has anyone here called 911 this week?

Man, we should probably get rid of that service if nobody needs it. I call for pizza delivery almost every day, why don’t they change that to 911? That would be so much more convenient!

Or, I mean, it would be until one day when your arm goes numb and the guy on the other end of the line would like to know if you want extra pepperoni with your heart attack.

Ha! I’m on a roll here! I know, enough, but prepare yourself to be super jealous:

I was diagnosed with ADHD in 4th grade.

I never learned my multiplication tables because I was switching schools and adjusting to medication for that whole year.

Despite that, my freshman year of high school I was placed in the same math class as juniors and seniors because I tested so well after 8th grade, but then proceeded to fail and take pre-algebra three years in a row. While I could do the work, the medication I was on made me a little OCD and I wouldn't turn in my homework if I didn’t get a chance to rewrite it after I had worked out the problems. I wanted the paper, the math problems, to look clean and orderly because my brain felt like chaos.

I’ve never told anyone that before. Weird. Maybe I should revise this advice to:

"Hey everyone! Get a Therapist and a Blog!"

(trust me, your parent’s will be thrilled.)

So now you’re asking yourself why you should be jealous? Well, it’s hard to explain, but in a nut shell it’s this:

Therapy has no stigma for me.

Zilch. Like people who grow up in foreign countries and eat flies. It’s just, you know, lunch.

And wow-sers!! I have had some bad therapy in my life. Like the time I was a young twenty year old newlywed and the guy (let’s not call him doctor, shall we?) told me to go home and just yell the F-word over and over and over to get the “goody two shoes” out of my system. Oh, and if I yell it at Jon, it will do me twice the good. Really let loose, ya know?

No. I really don’t. Oh, and you’re fired. And you’re paying for my next 5 sessions with someone else. (I called his boss the next day, so that part is totally true!)

What I’m saying is that, if you happen to take this advice, and it goes very, very, badly? Don’t give up! I never buy the first thing I try on! And that is more true for me about doctors than it is for shoes!

And don’t wait too long to do it. Heaven forbid, but if (and when) something really traumatic happens in our lives, do you really want to turn to someone for help who knows nothing about how bright and funny and wonderful you are? Well, that’s too bad, because as I was writing that, I realize that is totally unrealistic and not how it works for me either. I should revise that advice to: don’t get a therapist when you’re doing great (duh), but don’t wait until your face is smashed against the bottom of the barrel, either. When you’re heading for a fall, it’s okay to grab the railing.

The best part? Once I do break through that “emergency therapy” stage to the “maintenance therapy” stage, eventually I have a doctor that I can visit once or twice a year that does see me through my ups and downs. Having ADHD running rampant (with scissors) throughout the people in my house definitely has it’s drawbacks, but the fact that we accept the need for third party guidance and support? It helps us with more than ADHD related stuff, it helps us in our every days.

And I just thought you should know that. Because “when you” read my blog, “it makes me feel” happy.

HA! If you get that joke you've already been in therapy and you could have totally skipped this soap box page.

Lissa Rae of Sunshine’s  Guide To Finding A Therapist

So… you’ve come over to my playground and want to give this whole thing a try? Well then, I present to you now, my very best advice for making it happen:

1. Pick a couple words that describe what you are going for, family counseling, parenting help, marriage stuff, depression or anxiety, or just plain advice on reaching a goal. Write it down.

2. If you have it, call your insurance and find out what your coverage is. Don’t get stuck on that part! Skip the website at first and just call the number right on the front of your card in your wallet. Those phone people may not always be nice, but they work for you! Feel free to ask any questions, even if they act like you should be hospitalized you are so dumb. They talk like that to everyone. (and check the coverage for everyone in your family, adults are usually limited to 5-10 sessions a year, but often kids are unlimited. And parents, feel free to bill your visit's under your children's names, its finally a great reason to have kids!  All that free therapy!)

3. When they finally direct you (through fax, email or website) to a list of providers in your area PICK FIVE. And call them all. Even if you get a great feeling about the first one, you better finish that list. Says me. Oh, and Google them! They may be authors, do speaking engagements or have a website. The more you know and all that jazz.

4. Now HERE it is, my best gem of wisdom, all preceding words are just fluff compared to this bit of hard earned knowledge: Good therapist’s hire good secretaries. Good means nice. Willing to converse. They shouldn’t make you feel like they are trying to get off the phone with you because there are ten other people waiting. Think of it this way; if your first appointment goes well, these people will buy new cars with the money they get from you and your insurance. If there really are ten people waiting there? You shouldn’t know it because you are next months car payment for heavens sake!

This also applies to doctors who answer their own calls, although you will usually leave a message and they call you back, but the same gauge for good attentive phone manners still applies.

5. So you need to do a brief “nice” check? Here is your script (yes, you need one or you’ll just seem needy or weird):

“Hi, I got your information from my insurance. Before I make an appointment I was calling with a couple questions regarding [insert doctors name here].”

First verify insurance coverage is accurate.

If you don’t have insurance it is completely appropriate to ask if you can receive a discount for paying with cash.

Next, find out when the next available appointment is. More then 10 days? They are out of the running! Nobody plans a mental breakdown more than 10 days in advance, and if you have to wait that long for every appointment you’ll never remember what brought you there in the first place. Plus you didn’t get the help when you needed it.

Ask about the doctors specialty. Just because the doctor checked the box that says ADHD and CHILDREN when she was filling out the insurance information doesn’t mean she actually see’s very many children. In the case where I was talking to a doctor who answered his own calls I asked “Do you have many other clients who are children?”  This is where your key words from #1 will come in handy. Before you make the call write down one really specific question:

“Does the doctor treat a lot of couples?”

“Do you ever use meditation techniques in your therapy?”

“Do you believe in an inner child? Because if you ask my husband to talk to his inner child he’s going to throw things at you.”

Well, you know, tailor the question to your needs, obviously.

That’s it.

I hope that helps you. The last piece of advice I would give you would be that if you find a doctor and your first visit goes well, at that appointment make two more appointments for the same time and day over the next two weeks. I always do my sessions in a three week chunk. When you go to therapy, it’s usually because there is an event, a habit, or a pattern in your life that is causing you grief. Just telling someone about it on the first appointment doesn’t fix anything, but knowing you have to report back motivates you to stick with it. If you can’t stick with it, but you wait six months to check-in or discuss what your road blocks are? Well, that’s six months you didn’t need to be so freakin’ miserable, so make your follow up appointments!

Okay, now I’m done. Cheers to you and your mental health!


Tara said...

Love this post. I totally linked it to my FB page. You're brilliant.

Alissa Rae King said...

Sheesh, Tara (fellow blogger and kick ass child psychologist), coming from you I'm gonna go ahead and blush for a day :)

Shan said...

I was able to look at your space party blog and was blown away. We should chat. I'm throwing a space themed party this Saturday for our 6 year old. I don't think my post was added for some reason--but I wanted to say that it looks like an AMAZING party. WOW!

Shan said...

Amazing Space Party!!!!!