The first published excerpt from “The Self Care Bible,” written by Cassie Cohen, Founder and CEO of Cassie Cohen Creative, LLC and Hope Wild, Inc.
The first thing to note is that there is no such thing as winning at therapy. There is only show up, speak, listen, cry, work, reflect, radiate, discover, cry, heal, cry, cry, cry, and/or never cry if you’re creepy.
But for starters, you can show up hella prepared. I tried out a new therapist this past November and totally blew her out of the water with my preparedness.
Think of therapy like school.
To use my undergraduate experience as an example: I at minimum showed up for class. So, now I, at minimum try to show up for therapy with the same muster.
This means that I show up at the scheduled time and location even if I need to call my mom for a thirty second, “Get your ass out of bed,” pep talk. I show up even if I am so hungover that I reek of booze and need to avoid making any sudden movements for fear of a sudden intestinal collapse. Luckily I am celebrating seven months of sobriety so this is less of a pressing issue.
Try not to feel too bossed around by this list of requests. I only want to help you help yourself. I have no interest in observing your response to this article to determine if you followed every step.
Just get your physical body into that goddamn chair.
Show up even if you are already crying, reek of booze, didn’t have time to take off last night’s makeup, and/or are wearing a full “Men’s Varsity Hockey” sweatsuit that clearly belongs to your evening prior’s one night stand. Feel proud that you are wearing that sweatsuit. B*tches love hockey.
To reiterate the point prior, just f***ing show up.
The great part about my undergraduate experience is that 80 to 90 percent of the time, I showed up to class with my assignments prepared and with something other than sweatpants on, ready to engage, learn, and #dowerk. Try and make it a goal to approach going to therapy this same way (see below for more on this).
Eighty percent of the time, arrive at therapy prepared and poised.
Sweatpant avoidal is optional. As a woman who often refers to pants as, “Leg prisons,” I believe that your legs deserve freedom every day… Therapy day especially!
Hell, you’ve got to remember that someone is paying for you to be there. If that person is you, it’s time to take yourself as seriously as our former President Obama.
Because I don’t know you or any of your struggles, challenges, family combat, trauma, or previous mental and physical health history, I will now suggest this listicle of things that you might want to bring with you to your first (or five hundredth) appointment with your psychotherapist.
Just FYI: This is a list of 13 because 13 is a great number.
Thermos of your favorite warm beverage.
If prone to anxiety, choose one of those “delicately mixed” herbal teas. If you are bad and bougie (which you are) purchase a seasonal latté. If your appointment is in the afternoon, consider making your seasonal latté decaf. If you are feeling anal about the impacts of the #altmilk industry, choose oat milk (in preparation of spending an extra sixty cents to one dollar, plus your state’s food and beverage tax).
Especially if you live in the following above-ground cities: Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Leadville, Santa Fe, Quito (Equator), Lhasa (Tibet), Kathmandu (Nepal…) ok we get it.
Hydrate or die-drate.
…(or eco friendly handkerchief) of your preference.
Moisturizing? Definitely consider the ply here.
Something to do with your hands.
Fidget toys, a knitting project, etc.
Maintaining eye contact with your therapist can be hard and often unnecessary, especially while discussing your negative core beliefs, behavioral sabotage, and substance abuse that all stem from your daddy issues (obviously).
Some therapists have their own fidget toys in their offices, but when I think of all the other angsty hands that have probably touched those things over the years, I’m like, “Nah, I’ll bring my own, seeing as I am a professional therapy attender these days.”
…that is super hipster/preppy/cute/chique/treat yourself 2011 (step 1- circle one, step 2- acquire, step 3- manifest).
A nice-ass pen.
Consider Pilot Precise V5 Rolling Ball in black or purple. No, they didn’t pay me to suggest that. You’re welcome.
Your business card.
This is for in case you accidentally network in the waiting room and/or in the elevator on your way out of the office when you are feeling your peak sexy and empowered.
Yes, still buy business cards from Vistaprint or a similar sight (they are dirt cheap, I’m telling you) even if you are unemployed. Even unemployed people have email addresses. After I quit my first grown-up job and was unemployed by my own stubborn free will, this factoid was a huge benefit to me.
Charged and on airplane mode.
Extra points if the screen is cracked or if it’s an Envy 3 (2009, sometimes I miss you).
So you can pay your copay and your latte, herbal tea, CBD chocolate, or whatever the hell you want and/or need.
Bring your insurance card to your first appointment.
If you don’t have enough money for health insurance or your employer doesn’t supply it, you might qualify for Medicaid or Medicare. It’s worth looking into, the government is here for a reason beyond daily annoyance and speeding tickets…Don’t forget about your fun elementary school playground and public libraries and neighborhood and National Parks).
…for listening to (insert your go-to girl or boy or they band here) before and after your appointment as needed.
Your list of “Goals For Therapy.”
These could be could for today, for this month, this year, this life, hell — no one can stop you from having goals! No one except yourself, that is.
Caution here: Your therapist might tell you to, “Do less,” so you workaholics may need to get mentally prepared for that.
Your completed assignments and/or reflections from last week.
If you’re on your way to your first session, bring any past psychological or academic testing you may have completed at any point in your life. Testing can make what feels like one hundred questions feel more like a more even twenty.
Yourself, showered, dressed, and ready to take steps to live the life you deserve.
Of course make sure you are wearing your big girl/boy/they, “vulnerability is strength” power outfit.
Good luck! Go get ‘em!
Always feel free to document your experiences at therapy on social media. I guarantee that your vulnerability is strength and that it will inspire others to follow your fearless lead.