There's a lot that goes into finding the right therapist. Are they qualified? Do they take your insurance? Do they mesh well with you and give you helpful tools you can practice outside of their office? Two-time Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman told POPSUGAR during an interview about her involvement with Life is Good's #SomethingGood movement that you've got to "figure out what works for you." She knows the feeling.
Aly has spoken to us in the past about dealing with anxiety. She revealed that some of that stemmed from stepping forward, along with hundreds of other female athletes, with her story of abuse from former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor Larry Nassar. This time around, she shared that she's been going to therapy for a few years now and has gone through a number of different therapists. Finding someone you click with takes time and is normal, she said, comparing it to when you meet a lot of people and only some of them stay in your life — sometimes connections just aren't there.
"I think being able to try different [therapists] and figuring out what works for you and what doesn't is really important, and it also kind of allows you to learn more about yourself," Aly, who captained both the 2012 and 2016 US women's Olympic gymnastics teams, said. She currently goes to two therapists at home, and through her experience, she's learned that what works for her most is when they're able to give her ways to deal with negative self-talk and anxiety on her own. One of those tools is paying attention to her inner dialogue. "I try to comfort myself as if I was talking to my really good friend, or somebody that I really love and care about because we're often really hard on ourselves," she explained.
For anxiety, she tries to ground herself and focus on things around her like colours or objects in the room, or she does a body scan to remind herself of where she is. "Sometimes even when you're in a safe environment, your mind is making you feel like you're not," she said, so shifting attention to familiar things — things that are there in the moment — helps.
"I think what helped me a lot is knowing that I'm not the only one in the world that's going through something."
Aly went on to say that if you aren't feeling it, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. "If you don't feel like you're clicking with somebody, it doesn't mean that therapist isn't good at their job, it just might not be the right fit for you," she said. "It's OK to try a bunch of different therapists. Don't feel guilty about trying somebody else." Trusting your gut is key, because "it's very hard to talk to someone about what you're going through, so it's important to find somebody that you really trust and somebody that also makes you feel safe and comfortable."
She admits that therapy, at first, was uncomfortable. Now that she's found the right professionals, she actually looks forward to her sessions. "You should leave feeling better and a little bit more like what you're going through is normal." Because, Aly said, it always is. "I think what helped me a lot is knowing that I'm not the only one in the world that's going through something." You're never the only one.