My Experience With Psychotherapy

Getting help and my relationship with my Therapist.

To be honest, the reason I started therapy wasn’t to heal. I got in contact with a disability lawyer to help me get the disability benefit from the NFL. His intentions were to get the disability benefit for me but also for me to heal; mind, body, and spirit. For about a year, I had to fly around the country and be examined by doctors and specialists. The therapist he found for me was close to my home in Florida. I would have to drive up there once a week to meet with her. I wasn’t resistant to therapy, I always knew I would need it someday, but I wasn’t excited either. I was skeptical about opening up to a stranger about my personal problems, especially at this point in my life.

Before I went to therapy, my only experience of what therapy was was through TV and movies. I didn’t know anybody personally that went to therapy. I thought I’d be in control, laying down on a couch, asking for answers to my issues. I could have all the time I want since it's MY therapist and at the end of every session, I’d feel more complete.

When I first met with her, I treated it as if I knew how the session would go. She had a couch but I didn’t lay on it. I acted as if I was trying to prove to her I didn’t need therapy. I talked about my problems as if they weren’t mine and my successes like that were all I experienced. Being the therapist that she is, she was able to see through my bs and that’s when we really started talking. I would say things matter of factly and she would question me on that belief. It felt like as soon as I started to get into it, the session was over and it was time to pay for my time. It caught me so off guard. I'm thinking this lady is really here for me but feeling like it was cut short along with the monetary exchange, left me feeling vulnerable.

It took me the rest of the week to come to grips with what just happened. There was a lot to unpack before my session the following week. This is the 1st person I opened up to in 8 or 9 months. I felt so good talking about my problems and then boom session over. I felt shut out. I felt like I should be able to talk until I felt better about my problems. This turned out to be a big lesson for me.

The first thing I had to do was remind myself that this is her job and she has other patients. I knew before I even got there how long the session would be and how much it cost. Since it was the 1st time I was vulnerable in a while, I tried to put some of my emotional burden on her, thinking she will help me carry it. The end of the session reminded me that she is not here to baby me like a parent. I had to remember that I am responsible for my own healing.

The reality of therapy is that she is trying to teach me the tools to deal with my issues on my own. I try to look at my therapist as a teacher or a coach. I pay her to teach me the tools I need to heal and live a happy life. Knowing that the session will end makes me try to make the most of my time. Each session, I have to be vulnerable with how I feel and listen to her for the tools that can help me. Switching my mindset helped me understand how to work with my therapist to heal myself.

Isa Abdul-Quddus is a former NFL Athlete, playing 6 years at safety for the Saints, Lions and Dolphins. After suffering a career ending injury, he took his focus to sharing his story, emphasizing on mental health. Isa also loves music (Hip Hop and R&B), film and reading.