Should you try therapy? If you are considering therapy it is important to understand a little bit about the process first. The therapeutic process can feel confusing and sometimes overwhelming.
As a mental health clinician, I find that first-time clients are curious about what to expect from our work together. They ask about different modalities therapists use, what a first session looks like, and how to build trust with a therapist. So here are some answers to these questions. Knowing what to expect from therapy can better help you prepare for the work and accept the experience.
What is therapy?
The word “therapy” can be used interchangeably with psychotherapy, talk therapy, or counseling. They are all different terms that describe the same process. Essentially, therapy is a form of mental health treatment used to relieve emotional distress, work through life stressors, and gain insight into difficulties. It is a safe space to meet with a trained professional to take care of your mental and emotional health.
Therapy sessions are structured meetings ranging from 30-90 minutes between a licensed provider and a client. Depending on your concern, therapy can take the form of individual, couples, family, or group counseling. There are various forms of treatment and strategies practiced by a range of clinicians depending on their area of focus and modality. The frequency of sessions, their length, and the type of therapy depend upon the individual therapist and the insurance coverage.
Building trust with your therapist
So let us say you scheduled your first session, what should you expect? Depending on the provider, insurance, or type of therapy, the first session might look a little different. In essence, it is the time for you and your therapist to get acquainted. During this time, you can decide if this relationship is a good fit and if you are comfortable with this therapist.
Sometimes that rapport takes time to develop as both individuals begin to spend more time working with one another. People are individuals and so are therapists. That means you may feel uncomfortable with the personality or therapeutic style of the therapist or the modalities they use. With my clients, I often compare the process of finding a therapist to dating. It might take some time to find the right one and you may have to shop around for a bit to find a good fit.
Building rapport and trust with your therapist can take some time. It can feel uncomfortable to divulge so much of yourself to a stranger. Rapport takes work and the more comfortable you become during sessions, the more insight the therapist can gain to help you.
Therapy is a sacred space for the client to work collaboratively with a counselor to work toward positive changes and improvements over time.
Beginning your therapy journey
When beginning your therapeutic work, it is normal to feel apprehensive about your first session. This is normal for people who have never undergone treatment and are unsure what to expect. It is understandable that the prospect of sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings with a stranger can feel scary or uncomfortable.
The therapeutic space feels safe, empathetic, and nonjudgemental. It is a space to share your innermost thoughts and feelings that you may not feel able to discuss with friends and/or family. Being able to work through problems with an unbiased professional in a confidential setting (within legal/ethical limits) can feel extremely therapeutic for a person experiencing significant distress in their life. It is time reserved just for you to be able to work through difficult emotions, process stressful situations, and learn new healthy coping skills.
During the session, your counselor will be able to provide insight into your feelings, advice on how to approach situations, and challenges to your perception. What differentiates a therapist from a friend or family member is their evidence-based treatment for mental health conditions. Trained counselors can also aid in developing treatment approaches to address persistent mental health conditions and symptomology.
Should you go to therapy?
People seek therapy for many different reasons. There is a common misconception that counseling should exclusively be for people diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Psychotherapy can be for anyone and everyone. It is a space to improve your well-being, improve your relationships, and learn healthy coping skills. It can improve your quality of life.
Contact us today to schedule a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation or to book an appointment.
I aim to create a safe, healing environment for individuals of diverse racial and cultural backgrounds, sexual orientations, gender identities, religions, and body sizes. I work with individuals and couples navigating through life transitions, self-esteem, racial/ethnic identity, LGBTQ+ identity concerns, relationships, and trauma. Please call or message our office today with any questions, or to schedule your first appointment.