Starting Therapy: What can I expect?
We all have some idea of what therapy looks like based on what we have seen in movies or on TV. Also, it’s likely that at some point you’ve seen a picture of the famous couch that Sigmund Freud used with his patients. You might wonder if the therapist will only ask certain types of questions such as those about your childhood or “How does that make you feel?” on repeat. Therapists do ask those questions but therapy certainly offers so much more!
Informed consent is just another way of saying that your therapist wants you to know what therapy is and isn’t, information about billing, payment and using insurance, confidentiality, and the benefits and risks of therapy. Your therapist also might include some information about their education and training as well as the types of treatment they utilize in their informed consent explanation. Informed consent is just like having similar types of information about a medical procedure before agreeing to it.
Your first couple of sessions will allow you and your therapist to get to know each other
First of all, it is completely normal to feel anxious when arriving for your first session with your therapist. The thought of opening up about very personal things to a stranger (yes, even though that person is trained as a counselor and that’s what they do) is overwhelming. The therapist understands this so do not worry if this is how you feel. Especially in the first couple of sessions, it is common for the therapist to ask lots of questions to get a feel for how they can best help you. They will likely ask you about your symptoms and how those symptoms have affected you. They will also ask you if you have or have ever had any thoughts of harming yourself or anyone else. This is a question all therapists ask regardless of what brings someone to therapy-so don’t let it alarm you.
As therapy moves forward, you and your therapist will agree on treatment goals
Once your therapist has asked a lot of questions and you are starting to get to know each other a bit, you and your therapist can discuss a treatment plan. By the second or third session, your therapist will have asked you what your goals are for therapy. You likely will have already written them down as many outpatient counseling practices ask that you complete an assessment or questionnaire before beginning treatment. These goals will allow your therapist to tailor particular types of treatment interventions to help meet those goals. For example, a lot of therapists help their clients identify how certain thoughts might be triggering anxiety symptoms (cognitive-behavioral therapy).
Therapy looks different for everyone
As therapy progresses, your therapist will review your treatment plan progress and as a team, you and your therapist will decide if any changes need to be made or if any additional services need to be added such as medication management. The length of treatment varies depending on the person.
Therapy can be a wonderful place for growth and change as well as a safe space for processing feelings with a nonjudgmental listener. Please reach out to us at Calm Mind Counseling Center if you have any questions about therapy!