After years of thinking that my psychology classes in college have forever barred me from ever getting anything tangible out of going to a therapist, I finally decided about a month ago to seriously start looking for a head shrinker, if for no other reason than to just give me some more perspective.
Firstly, allow me to say that the process of finding a therapist is not something anyone under any psychological duress should ever have to endure. It's looking up people online, and then looking them up to see if they're covered on your insurance. OR, it's seeing that they ARE covered, and then being unable to find out anything about them from a google search.
Finally, I found someone perfect for me. Covered under my insurance, less than a mile from my house, a woman, specializing in what seemed to be a laundry list of my self-diagnosed problems. Three days before my last period (read: In a crazy hormonal state), I called this woman to make an appointment. She called me back to ask what I was interested in, and my head was swimming with an ideal notion that she was going to be perfect for me. She called me back! Right away! She sounds really nice! I explained to her that I had a hard time finding her and I was so grateful she was covered under my insurance.
"What insurance do you have?" she asked.
"HMO or PPO?"
"I just stopped accepting HMO insurance. Are you sure you're not PPO?"
Three days before my period, tears welled in my eyes and a lump forced its way to the back of my throat. "Yeah, I'm sure. How much are you per session?"
"That's fine, I don't think I'll need to see you once a week, so I can afford 2x a month."
"I don't mean to discourage you from working with me, because I'd love to meet you and I think I can help you, but I always suggest that new patients meet with me once a week so that we can identify any patterns in your life."
I'm not really much for patterns. "Fine. When's my appointment?"
September 5th, 9am, I arrive to her office. I take the stuffy ride up in the elevator to the fourth floor. The whole building is eerily quiet. I find her suite and walk in to an empty room with two chairs, and two buttons on the wall. "Seen by appointment only. Please buzz your therapist when you arrive." I pressed the button by her name and sat down.
Moments later, a woman looking not entirely unlike Sandra Oh, opened the door and smiled at me. I supposed that was my cue to get up and follow her, so I did. She said hello, how are you, the usual small talk, and led me to a back room and sat me down on the couch. She sat right in front of me and just looked at me, smiling carefully, as though I were a victim of some terrible... something.
In my head, I had pictured her introducing herself, and asking me questions. Instead, she just stared at me cautiously, as though I were a 9/11 widow or my sister had registered as a Republican.
I said, "Um, are you Michele?"
She smiled and nodded.
I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do. So I just started talking. She rarely had anything to say, and when she did, it was spoken in a Funeral Voice. She pretty much just listened to me, asked a few detail questions: "What's your girlfriend's name?" "When did your dad start drinking again?" and my favorite, "What about depression?"
When I ran out of things to say, she said, "We're just about out of time, is there anything else you want to say?"
I had just spent 45 minutes with a total stranger, spilling my guts, and now she's asking if I have anything else.
"No," I said, "do you have any questions for me?"
Of course she didn't, so she reminded me the payment is $90, and we set up another appointment. As I was leaving, the only thing I could think of, next to my disappointment, was, "Shit, I have friends who will listen to me bitch for 45 minutes for FREE... why did I come here again?" Beyond that, she's a LCSW... the least I could have done was pick someone with the ability to give me some drugs. This woman just has pricey listening skills.
I let my second appointment stand until 2 days before its scheduled time before canceling it. I'd rather spend my $90 on something that is actually guaranteed to make me feel good... like a full tank of gas and a fridge full of groceries.