Contemplating starting therapy, but don't know what to expect? Read more for a brief summary of how the process works. For more brief information on what to expect from therapy, check out our blog Myths vs Truths in Therapy.
First Step - Consultation
This is a chance for you to meet the therapist and determine if they might be a good fit. The
therapist will ask you questions about why you are seeking treatment; they will open up space
for you to ask them questions about their credentials, areas of focus and therapeutic approach.
This is an opportunity for you to ask as many questions as you’d like as well whether it be
insurance related, how the therapeutic process works and whatever else is on your mind. It can
be helpful if you are able to identify things that have worked for you in the past and things that
have not with other providers if you have seen anyone prior to meeting this therapist.
You Set Your Own Goals
Therapists work with a variety of people each with their own needs and backgrounds. The therapist is there to help you identify and explore your own goals and find healthy ways to work towards them.
You Don’t Have to Share Anything Until You're Ready
If your therapist asks you something you are not comfortable with sharing, that is okay and it is important for you to tell them you’re not ready for that conversation yet. Over time the hope is your rapport with the therapist gets built, your insight grows, and you become more open to sharing and exploring difficult emotions and conversation while being led by a professional in order to reach your identified goals and come to a better understanding of yourself.
Therapy Isn’t Just About Your Feelings
Sure, you’ll explore your feelings, and you’ll often come away feeling better at the end of a session from being able to share and process what’s going on internally for you. However, therapy is about more than that. Therapists use clinical practices and teach skills for you to question your negative thoughts and change your behaviors. Your therapist will encourage you to confront things you’ve been bottling up. This is all important for your growth and treatment. But it’s also challenging. Some days you might leave the office feeling sad or angry… but it’s all part of the process. This is the
commitment you are making to yourself when entering and engaging in therapy.
To get the most out of therapy, sometimes you will have “homework.” This isn’t
like the type of homework you get at school. It’s practical things, like “write down how you feel
each day,” or “introduce yourself to someone new.” If your therapist asks you to do something
you don’t feel ready for, you can ask for something more manageable. Most of the time, the
work you are doing in session once a week, or however frequent your sessions are, is not the
sole thing that will help you heal and grow. Most of the work is done outside of session when
you are practicing skills learned during session and reflecting on your conversations with your
You're Not Stuck With The First Therapist You Try
If you’ve been meeting with your therapist for a while and still aren’t seeing any benefit, it’s time to reevaluate. It may be that you just need to share more. Or it might not be a great fit. Even a ‘really good’ therapist might not be the best therapist for you. Don’t be afraid to switch therapists if it seems like you need a different
Most people need more than a few sessions to get the full benefit of therapy. It’s common to see a therapist regularly for several months or even years. Your therapist will work with you to determine the best option for you based on your goals, progress and continued assessment of symptoms.