Newcomers are often nervous and unsure what to expect when starting therapy. You might have heard horror stories, or positive ones, from those close to you. But if you’re wondering what to expect throughout your therapy process, below are some guidelines:
1.) The beginning.
Your first one to two sessions will typically look different than future therapy sessions. Your therapist will likely ask you questions about you, your life, and your experiences. In some practices, you may need to fill out intake paperwork and/or assessments. Make sure you use the first few sessions to determine if your therapist is a
good fit for you. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions about their therapy approach, background, and areas of expertise.
2.) Come to session prepared.
This is your therapy session, so make it worth your time. Bring in your journal or notes of what you want to discuss in session. Make note of changes you see in yourself and ask your therapist if that’s normal, or what to expect. Ask questions, any questions. If you have a good therapist, they will want to do what’s most important for you, as long as it’s purposeful.
3.) Do your homework.
Most therapists will give you homework or activities to do in between sessions. Your therapist doesn’t assign these to you for their benefit, it’s meant to help you! Spending 50 minutes in therapy each week is not enough to make progress. You need to hold yourself accountable for making the changes you desire outside of
4.) Speak up.
This can be applied to any and everything when it comes to therapy. Are you not resonating with the therapy approach being used? Tell your therapist. Do you feel like what you’re doing in sessions isn’t helping you? Tell your therapist. Do you want to come in more or less frequently? Tell your therapist. If you feel like you’re not
progressing towards your goals, mention this in session and have an honest conversation about it. These are your sessions and you’re the expert on your life.
5.) Be open to feedback.
With the above mentioned, be open to hearing your therapist’s perspective, thoughts, and observations. Sometimes they can see barriers that you don’t, or they can help you work through your readiness to change. Your therapist needs to provide you with feedback on your progress and even at times during sessions. Be open to hearing it all. If you feel like you’re being shamed, criticized, or belittled, then it may be time to explore other therapists.
Remember that your therapist is there to help you and if you’re not getting what you need, speak up. If you follow these tips and it seems like you’re not making progress, or your therapist isn’t open to feedback or willing to make changes, then explore other options. Be flexible, curious, and open to change throughout the therapy process.