How to Prepare for Mental Health Counseling

Aug 25, 2023

The mission of the Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition is to eliminate the stigma of mental illness. Once you have taken the steps to seek professional therapy, what can you expect? Here are some helpful tips from Bridget McNally, case worker at Mental Health Advocates of WNY.

It can be awkward.

Anxiety disorders affect 18% of the US population every year, so it’s natural to dread talking about your intimate problems with someone new. Therapists are aware of that discomfort and self-consciousness and well trained to help you open up.

You are brave.

Admitting that you need to go to therapy and then actually following through is difficult. Less than half the population living with a mental health challenge follow through with treatment. Be proud of yourself for taking this step.

Be honest with your therapist.

It can be challenging to talk about things you’re struggling with. Chances are, you won’t be telling your therapist the wildest thing they’ve ever heard. You must be honest about your struggles to access proper care.

Keep an open mind.

Some of the meditations and mantras you learn in therapy seem silly, especially when your therapist is guiding you through them. But these simple exercises can help when you’re alone and struggling with day-to-day life.

Be honest with yourself.

Your first therapist may not be the right fit for you and that’s okay. So many people have a bad first experience and give up hope. There are a plethora of different types of therapists and treatments and sometimes you must try a few different options before you find what’s best for you.

How to find a therapist:

If you are in crisis, call Crisis Services at 716-834-3131 or the 24-Hour Addiction Hotline at 716-831-7007

Mental Health Advocates of WNY for linkage to community resources, providers, and treatment services. Call 716-886-1242 or visit

Erie County Department of Mental Health offers a list of behavioral health agencies.

Anti-Stigma Coalition resource page lists agencies offering mental health providers.

Referrals are not needed, and most insurances are accepted for mental health treatment. Many operate on a sliding scale for patients without insurance.

Why choose therapy?

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a way to help people with a broad variety of mental health issues and emotional difficulties. Therapy can address troubling symptoms so a person can function better and heal.

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