Many people go into therapy expecting one thing and leave their first session with a totally different outcome, not necessarily good or bad, just different from what they initially thought. My goal for this blog is for you to feel more comfortable knowing what therapy IS and what it is NOT. I’ve come up with a list of things I recognized people may want to know or need clarification on.
13 Things to Know Starting Therapy:
1. Therapy vs. Counseling
The words “therapy” and “counseling” are used interchangeably. They both mean the same thing when referring to sitting down with someone and talking about one’s issues. I’ve learned that the word “therapy” is used more in certain areas and “counseling” is more commonly used in other areas.
2. Don't Expect Miracles Right Away.
Don’t expect to be “fixed” or “cured” after your first, or even, second session. In most cases, your first session with your therapist is more of an intake session where we gather information about you and your past to get a better idea of who we are working with, what you’ve tried before, etc.
3. Speak Up.
Be truthful with your therapist and speak up if you don’t understand something or when confused about something. We will not know unless you tell us.
4. "In order to get over it, you must get through it."
Be prepared to talk about things that might be uncomfortable for you. More than likely, the reason why you sought out counseling is because you are struggling with something. In order to heal from your past, you must learn to address issues by talking about them and processing them. “In order to get over it, you must get through it.”
5. Bring a List.
If you have something that you specifically want to talk about in a session, bring a list with you so you won’t forget.
6. We are Human too.
We, the therapists, are human too. We forget things, we make mistakes, we have feelings. (Click here to read my last blog about how human I really am!)
7. Open mind.
Go in with an open mind. You may have a specific agenda, however, processing in therapy can bring up lots of other emotions and experiences. Most things are related to other things we think, feel, and act.
8. 24-hour Rule.
It is important to keep your appointments, as initially scheduled. Most therapists charge the full session amount if a client is a no-show, cancels, or reschedules after the 24 hour notice window. Please be mindful that the space that was allotted to you originally could have been scheduled for someone else. If you must reschedule or cancel, do your best to do so at least 24 hours in advance, however, we do understand that emergencies happen.
9. Be clear and honest.
Be clear about your expectations and what your goal is for attending counseling. Make sure you and the therapist are on the same page with these.
10. No Judgment.
Don’t be embarrassed of your thoughts and feelings. Nine times out of ten, your therapist has heard worse. We are not here to judge you, just to help process and guide you. (The only time a therapist can break confidentiality is when you are a harm to yourself or others).
11. Growth is a process for all.
Keep in mind that as you grow in therapy, the people around you, (family, friends, etc.) may not have. They might not have as much knowledge as you or the understanding that you are gaining. Be patient with your loved ones during this time as well.
Trust the process of therapy. It has helped many. Be open and willing.
13. You CAN!
Remember, there is hope and you CAN do this! The hardest part is walking through the door on your first appointment.
I hope this list provides you with some insight into the therapy process and helps you feel a little more at ease. If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact me here.