Finding a Therapist to Talk to About Huntington’s Can Be Hard
This week, I have my first therapy appointment in a while. I hope therapy will give me a structured place to talk about Huntington’s with someone not impacted by it. While my coping strategies have worked so far, I would benefit from someone neutral to talk to. Plus, with COVID-19 and the world being on fire, there’s an added incentive.
I’ve considered looking for a therapist many times over the past year, but finding a therapist is hard. During my search, I looked up over 400 names on Psychology Today, trying to find one I thought would work for me and who was accepting new patients. My mom even spent hours looking.
It was partly so hard to find one because I was very selective. A lousy therapist is worse than no therapist (i.e., I’d come out feeling worse and with less money). Since the beginning of college, I have seen five different mental health professionals. I stopped seeing each one for various reasons, but most of the reasons boil down to two main issues.
One, I have a pretty combative personality. If I don’t agree with what the person is saying or don’t feel heard, it will not be a very productive relationship.
Two, I end up hearing a lot of things I already know and don’t need to be told. I grew up in a very reflective household; it isn’t outside the norm to sit around the living room discussing our personalities and why we are that way. That upbringing has led me to be more aware of my flaws and to proactively try and fix them. So, when I discuss my problems in therapy, they end up focusing on how well I’m doing or suggesting things I have already tried.
Keeping those two issues in mind, I read through too many bios of mental health professionals in the Boston area. I wasn’t looking for someone who does art therapy, which it feels like every other therapist does, because art stresses me out. I found a list of people I generally thought would work, including several backups. By the time I emailed half the people on the list, they had filled their available slots.
At one point, I considered giving up looking and using BetterHelp, an online counseling service, but they don’t bill your insurance, and I didn’t want to pay out of pocket if I didn’t have to. I also looked into the free counseling provided by the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. The problem was they only cover up to eight appointments a year, and the Boston area was booked out several months.
Luckily, I found someone who ticked my many boxes, and they even offered night appointments. Hopefully, the many hours spent will prove worth it.
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