As an introvert, making myself invisible was a habit I’d grown accustomed to — so the idea of in-person therapy was intimidating.
While I love deep-dive conversations as much as the next introvert, the idea of in-person therapy was daunting for me. Opening up to a stranger in an unfamiliar environment was the last thing I wanted to do, especially when I was struggling. I put off seeking therapy for years after first thinking I needed it, which was already years after I actually needed it.
When I saw that online therapy platforms offered text-only options, alongside phone and video calls, it felt like a barrier to accessing therapy had been lifted. When I signed up, I was absolutely convinced I would only ever use the text feature because anything else was too intimidating.
Now, however, more than two years later, I actually look forward to my in-person therapy sessions once a week. During that time, I’ve even switched therapists twice to meet my changing needs, but I am so glad I finally worked up to in-person therapy. Here’s how I did it, step-by-step.
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How to Work Up to In-Person Therapy as an Introvert
1. Ease in with texting first, because writing tends to be easier.
It’s well-known that introverts prefer texting to phone calls, just like we prefer writing to speaking. (It’s also a favorite topic among introvert memes.) When I filled out the online therapy platform’s sign-up questionnaire, I was determined to only ever use written words. I wrote long, detailed texts to my online therapist. She got to know me as much as she could through my carefully curated messages and gave me the support I needed.
When I began to feel safer with her, I realized that as much as she wanted to help me, spending hours crafting how I said things wasn’t the best way of letting her. I agreed to do a live written chat session, but my typing couldn’t keep up with my thoughts. After that, I was willing to try something new, something that would fit my growing needs.
I don’t think I would have started therapy (maybe at all and definitely not as soon as I did) if texting wasn’t an option. It helped me pick a therapist I felt comfortable with in a way I felt comfortable with. Texting eased me in until I was ready to hear an actual voice talking back to me and start using my own. Which brings me to the next step…
2. Start to use your voice, verbally. Try talking on the phone.
I was nervous when my therapist called me for the first time. I had no idea what it would be like to discuss my struggles aloud and was worried about things like awkward pauses. Later, I found out therapists leave pauses on purpose to allow you time to process and think. It’s different from everyday conversations where introverts are often talked over if they take their time replying to others.
I expected to dive right into my problems on that first call. Instead, my therapist asked me about myself. How was it going that week? What were my family and childhood like? What would I consider my major life events to be? This went on for three sessions.
I’ll admit, I was disappointed. It seemed like we were just chatting — not an introvert’s favorite activity. I wanted to get to the “meat” of therapy, into deep, meaningful conversations. But in the fourth session, my therapist surprised me with an observation that cut right to the heart of an issue I was struggling with. I marveled at how she had such insight into the way my mind worked.
I realized that, in the weeks before, she was paying close attention to my answers in order to paint a picture of how I’d gotten to where I was. That was when I started to believe that therapy actually worked — not just in theory, but in a practical way.
I confided in my therapist more each week. I hate crying, but I did with her, the voice on the other end of the line. While phone calls were more personal than texting, they still provided the level of separation I needed to make progress, at least at that point. I didn’t worry what I looked like while I was crying, whether I was in my pajamas, or if my house looked messy behind me.
But, once again, there came a time when I was ready to try something new and I felt I knew more about what I needed in a therapist. In the back of my mind, I thought that if I found someone local who did virtual appointments, someone I really connected with, I could have the option to one day — maybe — go in person.
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3. Next, try virtual therapy as a way to get comfortable being seen.
I had done one video call with my online therapist, but hadn’t been ready to make the official switch yet. But when I found my next therapist, we did video calls from the very first consultation. She was soft-spoken and had an inviting smile. I felt a connection right away that was strengthened by having face-to-face interaction with her while still being in the comfort of my own home.
I didn’t have to go out in crowded streets or navigate traffic like I would to go into a therapist’s office. No sitting in a waiting room with strangers or on an unfamiliar couch. I was able to see the kindness and comfort on my therapist’s face — the sincerity. I could see that she was giving me her whole, undivided attention during those purposeful pauses.
In the time I was with my virtual therapist, I became more comfortable with being seen. As an introvert, making myself invisible was a habit I’d picked up from years of trying to preserve social energy. (That was before I learned I was an introvert or knew how to set good boundaries.) My therapist would compliment my outfit or the color of my office walls. She could see I talked with my hands and could see it on my face when I’d be feeling especially down.
Seeing my therapist while on video calls increased our level of trust more quickly than the other methods I’d tried. I only saw her for three months because I was moving, and in that time, I confided in her more than I had my online therapist, whom I’d seen for twice as long.
4. Finally, take the leap (or hop) to in-person therapy.
After moving, I did a few video consultations with local therapists until I found my current one. Despite that inkling in the back of my mind about in-person therapy, I kept saying I would never do it. Virtual therapy was working great and seemed to be perfect for my introverted tendencies. After a few sessions with an iffy internet connection and too much background noise, my therapist suggested I come in.
I was hesitant, but also interested in the opportunity. My husband and I have the same therapist, and he already did his sessions in-office, extrovert that he is. He sung the praises of in-person therapy, and I was convinced to go in for a couples session.
Having my husband there for support made the transition to in-person therapy easier and less intimidating. After that session, I started going in by myself. Despite the extra steps, like traffic and waiting rooms, I found that I preferred going to the office.
The idea of in-person therapy can be hard for some introverts, yet it’s the most effective form of therapy for many people, and I found that to be true for me, too. The conversation flowed more easily, and we were able to dive deeper into my struggles and background since we had the energy and intimacy of being in the same room.
Find What Works for You
It took me over a year to go through this process from texting to in-person therapy. Each step I took was on my own timeline, when I felt not only ready, but eager, to move on.
I still do virtual therapy on days I’m peopled-out. And, sometimes, I skip weeks altogether to give my introverted mind more time to process and apply what my therapist and I have talked about. I give myself the space and grace to find what works for me each week, and that’s key to making progress. I’ve learned not only to trust therapy, but to trust myself.
By working up to in-person therapy gradually, I made the transition to it with confidence, which is something we introverts can struggle with. You can, too, dear introvert. Just like life, there’s no one-size-fits all approach to therapy. The right therapist will work with you not just on your struggles, but with finding an approach that makes sense for every part of you — including your introversion.
My fellow introverts, I’d love to know — what kind of therapy works best for you? Feel free to share in the comments below!
You might like:
- 4 Ways Therapy Can Benefit Introverts
- My Introverted Brain Takes Longer to Process Things, and That’s Okay
- 9 Things That Are Hard for Me as an Introvert
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