Discover the Best Therapist For You
You’ve had enough. You’re finally ready to try something else. You’ve asked your friends for a recommendation or have found someone on the internet. You may be asking yourself, “I don’t know what to say,” or “nothing else seems to be working so maybe individual therapy will.” You’ve finally decided on a potential therapist and you make the call to schedule your first appointment. You still have doubts but you have some hope too. The day arrives of your first appointment and you are skeptical. Images of therapy on TV and in the movies flash in your head and you wonder if it is anything like that.
This experience is so common. The decision to go to individual therapy is one of the greatest and most rewarding challenges of one’s life. The decision to walk into a room with an individual that you do not know and be vulnerable with them is scary. It’s important to feel like the therapist you are working with is a good therapeutic fit, is focused on your goals, and does not bring their own lives into your session.
Finding the right fit
Individual therapy is a collaborative process with your therapist. The first session will be mostly information gathering. Some offices have a couch, some do not. Traditionally, you do not lie down in a therapy session. The therapist is interested in learning about you and the best ways to help you. I encourage you to be as open as possible in this first session. It will help you to develop a relationship and allow your therapist to assess areas of strengths and needs. You can expect to be asked questions about what brought you to therapy, what you want to get out of therapy, and how do you think therapy can help you now.
At the end of the first session, the therapist will provide their recommendation for continuing in therapy. The therapist will recommend how often they think you should come to meet your goals. Each therapist has different specialties and will suggest another therapist if your needs are outside of their scope of practice. Often, therapy is recommended weekly in the beginning and tapering off once the client is making progress. If this is not feasible due to time or money or some other reason, speak up. I promise you will not make the therapist mad. There are many therapists, many different types of therapy, and many personalities in the world of individual therapy. It’s about finding what works for you.
Therapy is interactive and goal-focused
Therapy can consist of some coaching, education, tough questions and deep meaningful conversations. You may be assigned activities or worksheets to complete and return to session with. You’re on your way! Throughout the process, be bold and let your therapist know if the skills you’re learning are not effective for you. Therapists are not mind readers (contrary to popular belief) and rely heavily on your feedback. Also, it’s okay to say I don’t know. Some difficult questions come up in individual therapy and it may take some time for you to process it. Take that time and give yourself permission to not know all the answers. You and your therapist will work together to determine when you are ready to stop coming to therapy. Therapy after all is not forever, it is only a stepping stone to helping you accomplish the goals you set for yourself.
Therapy is about you, not the therapist
The most important component in therapy is YOU. The therapist is a tool to help you accomplish your goals. Please run the other way VERY fast if a therapist begins to talk about their own life extensively. Therapy is not about the therapist sharing their own experiences or telling you how to live your life. We are guides to help you be the hero in your own story with your own strengths. It’s up to you to apply what you’ve learned in the sessions to your life. You get to choose.
Therapists will also not say hello out in public; our main objective to protect your confidentiality at all times. Should you decide to greet us most therapists are happy to say hello. However, that is your decision to make. Also, therapist should not be spending time with you outside of therapy sessions and should never ever be romantically involved. These are legal and ethical violations and should be reported immediately if you experience them.
I hope this helps you navigate the world of therapy. I am so thrilled and excited you have chosen the path of bettering yourself. Want more? Kati Morton, LMFT breaks down ways to know you’re with a good therapist.
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