The Therapeutic Process: What You Can Expect
Just like the stages of change, deciding to schedule a counseling session is a process for many people. You may have thought about seeking therapy for a long time, or have been convinced you need therapy one day and feel fine the next. You may have even picked up the phone to schedule your first appointment and then hung up (no judgment—we’ve been there too!).
The concept of seeking out aid and attending therapy can seem anxiety-inducing and a bit frightening, but let us reassure you: these feelings are perfectly normal. In fact, they’re an important part of the self-discovery process!
Entering your first session is a courageous first step. In this blog we will outline the therapeutic process and what will help you make the most of our time together.
Preparing Yourself for Your First Appointment
Before you go to your first appointment, take some time to determine what you want your therapist to help you with. Some questions you might consider asking yourself are:
- What led you to seek therapy?
- What symptoms are you currently experiencing and how are they affecting your daily life?
- What problems are you currently experiencing in your relationship? Your family? Your work? With your children?
- What have you done to try and feel better?
- What do you hope to accomplish in therapy? What are your goals and expectations?
Your therapist can further pinpoint your goals during your first session and help determine the resolution you are striving to achieve.
Many clients go to their first counseling session with a predetermined plan in mind and are not open to suggestions from their therapist, or from trying a different treatment option or exercise. We encourage you to try and keep an open mind. Your therapist may have ideas you haven’t thought of—and these might be the methods that help you achieve success! If at any time you feel that your therapist isn’t a good fit, you can move on to another. In fact, we encourage it!
Above all, do your best to relax before your appointment if you are feeling stressed. Remember, your therapist is there to help you reach your goals. They in no way wish for you to feel uncomfortable during the process.
During Your First Appointment
All therapists and their techniques are different, but while the stereotypical couch might be absent, you can expect a comfortable place to sit. Your therapist will want you to be comfortable so if you need an extra pillow, don’t be afraid to ask. Glasses of water are freely given and if you need to fidget with your hands to feel comfortable, feel free to do so. Generally, sessions are about an hour long. But because this is your first session, it may be slightly longer as you get to know your therapist, and they you.
Progressing Through Your Appointments
Subsequent therapy appointments will last approximately 45-60 minutes and will be focused on your goals, treatment plan, and the therapeutic techniques used to manage your symptoms or concerns. As you progress through your appointments you may:
- Develop emotional competence by becoming self-aware. This includes developing the skills of perceiving, identifying, interpreting, and responding constructively to your emotions.
- Become less dominated by the immediate situation and more accomplished in controlling how you react to outside stimuli.
- Develop social awareness by gaining the ability to sense, understand, and react to other’s emotions.
- Become aware of the possibilities for choice, self-direction, and the development of personal values.
Most clients share that just starting the process of therapy often makes them feel better as they view it as the first big step on their journey to self-improvement and personal goal achievement.
The length of time you will work with your therapist will depend on your commitment, cost, involvement, and particular situation. There is no predetermined length of time you will attend therapy as each client is different and, as a result, so is each therapeutic relationship. Regardless of how long you attend sessions with your therapist, rest assured in knowing that your therapist will always encourage and support your journey towards bettering yourself and your situation.Want to learn more about the therapeutic process? Get in touch on our contact page.