We’re stressed out from coast to coast, according to the American Psychological Association. In 2017, a Harris Poll asked Americans about their stress levels. On a scale of 1 to 10, the nationwide stress level came in at 4.8, which ranks as a historic high.
It’s not noticeably worse in any particular region, either. People on the East Coast reported a stress level of 4.7, while those in the South, Midwest, and West reported a slightly higher 4.8 stress level. As a collective, we’re nervous, angry, irritable, and tired. A therapist can help you address most, if not all, of those stressed-out feelings.
If you’re in the Baltimore area, here’s how you can find a therapist that works for and with you.
Think about fit
You have conversations with people every single day. By one count, the average American knows 600 people. But the same person only knows about 10 to 25 of those people well enough to trust them. And trusting someone isn’t always enough either.
Put another way, you can talk to someone at length without necessarily getting a lot from that conversation. If you’re sitting in an Uber talking to your driver, you probably aren’t going to feel like taking a deep dive into your psyche. And if the Uber driver begins talking about his marriage problems, you’ll likely feel uncomfortable. That’s because you don’t really know this person, and you don’t feel like you can or should weigh in on his personal issues.
A good Baltimore therapist is someone you can develop a relationship with. It shouldn’t be too personal, since you don’t need to go out for coffee with your therapist. A therapist shouldn’t treat you the same way that a friend will, but they should be supportive and caring, at least to a point. They should be able to challenge you in a way that makes you look at your life from a new perspective.
For instance, venting happens when a person just sits there and lets you talk about your feelings. They may offer a few sympathetic words, but they’re mostly just there to lend a supportive ear. A reputable therapist, on the other hand, will be able to help you find solutions. Let’s say you go into therapy looking for closure regarding the death of a parent. Closure is hard to find. However, a licensed therapist has had the academic training to understand the range of common responses to grief, how grieving people seek relief, and the signals of a need for higher levels of care. Furthermore, unlike well meaning friends and family, a decent therapist can help you live with the possibility that, from time to time, answers will not come easily.
Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable
Emotional discomfort and physical discomfort are two very different things. In a therapist’s space, you should feel 100 percent physically safe. Any therapist who makes you feel physically threatened has no business dealing with any patient. But emotional discomfort is a trickier thing to navigate. In general, you should expect that there will be moments when you may not feel as emotionally safe as you’d like.
Therapy should provide you with a safe space to deal with unsafe emotions. If you’ve always resented a sibling but you’re afraid to say it, then therapy should be a place where you can let loose with these emotions. If you cry, that’s OK. The box of tissues isn’t there for decoration.
It’s common for us to repress negative emotions. If you have a sibling you don’t like, you may feel bad or guilty about that. It might hurt you emotionally everytime you hear a friend talk about their close relationship with a brother or sister. Therapy is the best place to confront all that messiness. If someone has abused or mistreated you, now is the time to deal with their actions in a way that helps you move forward.
A patient will often come into a therapist’s office stuck on a particular emotional setting. It’s the therapist’s job to help them come up with strategies that will allow them to stop spinning their wheels.