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The best therapist I ever had- and why she was head and shoulders above the rest

There are two people who enabled me to do a total 180 on my life, from daily suicidal thoughts and urges to self-harm to greater stability & acceptance of my intense emotions: my now husband and the best therapist I ever had, Misha.*

As I have already written many times over, this does not make my husband my knight in shining armour; I cannot stand fairytale tropes of helpless women being saved by all-powerful men. This man who I decided to marry however gave me, pretty much instantly, such an indescribable feeling of warmth and injected so much humour into my life that I wanted to spend every weekend for the rest of my life with him. I even went from being a person who said 'no, I will never ever want to get married, I don't believe in marriage' to enthusiastically wedding ring window shopping.

Strangely, or perhaps not so strangely enough, it was just a couple of months before I met the guy who would become my husband that I began sessions with Misha— the other person who would transform my life and my relationship with myself. She was my one-to-one DBT therapist and also my group DBT session co-facilitator.

Misha was the best therapist I have ever had by a mile. Until I started DBT with her as my one-to-one therapist, no other therapist (and there have been many) ever helped me fully with my suicidal thoughts and urges to self-harm. As a result of teaching me emotional regulation skills before talking about any intense subject matter, she gave me the sense of safety I never truly felt—but desperately wanted to feel— with other therapists.

Furthermore, she made me feel like we were equals, rather than her being someone who was there to inform me in an all-knowing way of the 'true meaning' of my emotion and responses. At that time, I was jaded with therapy, fed up with its poetic or faux-poetic revelations which were no longer revelations to me, but just things that make me sigh or worse, cry. In writing this I don’t mean to discredit my other therapists—they all taught me things that have been useful— but I don’t think they were the ideal fit for me. Misha was more interested in teaching me:

1. how to get myself comfortable when painfully intense emotions and urges struck

2. how to get comfortable with being an emotionally sensitive person. I so badly needed to stop hating on myself for all my expressiveness, excitability and overflowing emotion.

Whilst there were a few times I did feel embarrassed and ashamed of myself in front of her, it was generally short lived— unlike with other therapists when I felt shame hot, thick and lingering like a stench or embarrassment that made me feel like a scolded school child.

Above all though, Misha gave warmth. It's an under-talked about and under-rated quality in clinical encounters, I believe. For me though, this warmth made me feel whole and not broken; made me feel valuable and wanted when I had spent so long feeling worthless and uncared for in the mental health system that had made me scared, silent and ashamed. This was therapy as genuine human connection and not only did it feel great, it worked an absolute treat. It meant I could enter a relationship with my now-husband knowing I could handle whatever came my way.

Misha, knows I thank her from the bottom of my heart. I hope each and every one of you reading gets the Misha you are looking for, if you are looking.

*Not her real name as I would like to protect her privacy.

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