What To Expect In Therapy Or Counseling
Every therapist is different, but there are usually some similarities in how therapy is structured. Normally, sessions will last about an hour, and take place around once a week. Although for more intensive therapy, they may be scheduled more often. Therapy is normally conducted in the therapists office, but therapists also work in hospitals and nursing homes, and in some cases will conduct home visits.
Expect a good fit between you and your therapist. Dont settle for bad fit. You may need to see one or more therapists until you feel understood and accepted.
Therapy is a partnership. Both you and your therapist contribute to the healing process. Youre not expected to do the work of recovery all by yourself, but your therapist cant do it for you either. Therapy should feel like a collaboration.
Therapy will not always feel pleasant. Painful memories, frustrations or feelings might surface. This is a normal part of therapy and your therapist will guide you through this process. Be sure to communicate with your therapist about how you are feeling.
Therapy should be a safe place. While at times youll feel challenged or face unpleasant feelings, you should always feel safe. If youre starting to feel overwhelmed or youre dreading your therapy sessions, talk to your therapist.
Writing Helps You To Develop Greater Insights
New associations, insights, and the recovery of old memories are often the products of getting your story down in writing. For some people, with in-person sessions, you may speak for a long time and not reach the heart of a matter. On the other hand, with writing, you can sometimes communicate more in each sentence, if it is written after a period of reflection.
Request A Phone Consultation
A therapist can go more in-depth in a live phone conversation than via email. A phone consultation is not a therapy session, but a 10-to-15-minute introductory conversation where, generally, the therapist will ask questions to gain a better understanding of the concerns youd like to address, give you an idea of their therapeutic approach, and discuss logistical details about cost and scheduling. This is also a chance to ask any questions you have for the therapist.
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Cost Of Email Therapy
Most online therapy platforms that offer email therapy, like BetterHelp, are usually subscription-based. Once you subscribe to their plan, you can have an unlimited chat with your therapist within the scope of your plan. Read our guide on the cost of BetterHelp to learn more about how this works.
If you connect with a regular in-person therapist, they will likely charge per hour of their time that it takes to respond to your email. If you are writing relatively long emails, requiring long-form responses, then each message will likely cost about the same as a 30-minute therapy session .
If You Don’t Start To Feel Better After A Few Sessions Re
If you’re still unsure about the therapist you’re working with after two sessions, Michaelides said not to worry.
That’s because those first sessions are for “information gathering, and following that there obviously are more questions as you go through therapy, but it’s less information gathering and really diving into those target areas that we’ve agreed to work together on,” Michaelides said.
If you notice a sense of relief after your sessions, it’s a sign you and your therapist mesh well, according to Michaelides.
But if you get to your fourth or fifth session and still feel uncomfortable talking to them, or feel worse than you did before the session, it’s a sign they aren’t the right match.
Other signs you should search for another therapist include feeling like you know more about them than they do about you, and feeling like they don’t respect your privacy, Michaelides said.
Lastly, your therapist can’t explain your diagnosis and their plan for working with you long-term, it’s time to get back to researching.
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Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Therapy
Going to therapy can be a little nerve wracking, especially if it’s your first time.
Whatâs supposed to happen? What should you say to friends and family when they ask questions? How do you know if youâre seeing the right therapist? And how do you make the most of therapeutic counseling anyway?
These are all very normal questions and concerns. Pop culture has perpetuated many myths about therapy and how we care for our mental health. The private nature of therapy itself is even partly responsible for the slow overturning of these myths.
But donât worry. Weâll break down in this article what to expect from therapy, what a good match with your therapist should feel like, what the common mistakes in therapy are, and how to get the most out of therapy in general.
Your Intention Doesnt Matter
The reader interprets and decides how they will perceive your email. That sounds kind of terrifying, but it doesnt have to be!
Taking a moment to think about what your reader is experiencing and working on, and then tailoring your email tone to be friendly and helpful, encourages your reader to remember, Oh right! I like her! or Hes a good therapist!
I find asking for things in soft, more passive ways helps remind colleagues that I am here to help and that were on the same team. We live in a fast-paced world and its easy to fire off a quick, direct email without taking a moment to be thoughtful, but consider the difference.
Heres a direct, to-the-point email:
Whats the call-in number for the IEP?
Contrast that with a friendlier tone that only takes a few more seconds to compose:
Hey! Can you please send me the call-in number for the IEP tomorrow? Looking forward to talking to you then!Warmly,
Sure, it took a few more seconds to write, but which email would you prefer to receive if you were being asked for information? Adding in these little sentences goes a long way toward building relationships.
These tips are all relatively simple and easy to follow, but what about when it really is a tough conversation, or when someone may have forgotten about a deadline?
Youre steaming mad?
Wait to send the email. Take a walk, grab a cup of coffee, or hug your dog. After youve cooled off, revisit the email. Ask yourself these questions:
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Set Boundaries Around Therapy
It can feel natural to discuss new therapy with a significant other or family, but try to create thoughtful parameters around how you speak about it. There may come a time when you donât feel comfortable sharing what happened in therapy. Itâs wise not to set up expectations that youâll always share. Plus, sometimes a peanut gallery is more destructive than valuable.
Help Clients Feel Comfortable On Arrival
Once clients arrive in the waiting room, I make every effort to greet them a few minutes before our session, offer a glass of water, and point out the restroom. If Im not available to do this, I give instructions to our receptionist to make these offerings to my client on my behalf and to let them know that Ill be with them shortly.
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Use A Reliable Online Database
A number of mental health organizations maintain up-to-date, searchable databases of licensed therapists.
Your search could start as simply as typing in your ZIP code to generate a list of counselors in your area. You may also be able to search for specialists, like marriage and family counselors or therapists who focus on drug and alcohol use.
Some of the most commonly used online search tools include:
Do You Have Experience Working With Clients With Similar Concerns
If youre seeking therapy related to a particular concern , its okay to ask targeted questions to ensure the therapist has that specific expertise or cultural knowledge. Now is also a good time to see whether their expertise and training feel like a good fit for you and aligns well with your mental health goals.
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Paying For Therapy And Counseling
In the U.S., for example, many insurance companies provide limited coverage for psychotherapyoften as few as 6-12 sessions. Read through your plan carefully to see what benefits you have. Some types of mental health professionals might not be covered and you may need a referral from your primary care physician.
Also keep in mind that some therapists do not accept insurance, only payment directly from the patient. Sometimes these therapists will accept sliding scale payments, where you pay what you can afford for each session. Dont be afraid to ask what arrangements can be made if you feel that the therapist could be a good fit for you.
In other countries, insurance and eligibility requirements vary. See below for links on finding therapy in your country.
What Resources Would You Recommend Someone Use When Searching For A Therapist
While finding a therapist who fits your style and can provide you with the treatment youre looking for can be difficult, the internet is here to help. Lee recommends diving into the following online mental health directories:
Using these resources, Lee notes that you can search for a provider based on insurance, geographic location, specialties, and identities. She adds that reaching out to your insurance provider directly can also be a helpful route, or you can ask for referrals from your primary care physician or other medical providers.
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What Questions Will The Therapist Ask Me
The therapist will typically start off the call with a few questions to get to know you better, so they can make sure they’re qualified to meet your needs. This includes questions about why you want to see a therapist, how youve been feeling over the past few weeks, and your goals for therapy.
Here are some questions a therapist may ask you on the initial call:
If possible, take a few minutes before the call to reflect on these topics, so you can have a clearer sense of your goals for therapy. But dont worry, if you cant verbalize the answer to any of these questions, thats okay too! An experienced therapist will know how to guide your thinking so you can figure out what to say.
After you answer these questions, the therapist will likely welcome you to ask questions about their practice, too.
How To Find A Therapist Virtually For The First Time
- If you’re looking for a therapist for the first time and doing so virtually, finding the right professional for your needs can feel daunting.
- But using online databases and asking a potential therapist questions about their process can help you decide if they’re a fit for you.
- It’s also important to watch out for red flags during sessions, like a lack of privacy or plan for improving your mental health.
If you’ve never gone to therapy before but have recently decided to get professional help, finding the right person for the job can feel daunting.
But it is possible to find a great therapist virtually with the right kind of online research, interviews with potential therapists, and consultations sessions, according to Andreas Michaelides, a clinical psychologist and Chief of Psychology at mobile health app Noom.
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Remember: Therapy Should Be Bettering Your Lifeeven If Its Work
When I decided to try therapy this time, I sought out someone who specializes in treating people with my condition. Luckily I found someone in my price range whose approach I liked during an initial phone call. And even luckier, Ive liked working with her. I dont just chit-chat when I come in, Im not afraid to speak up if she says something I disagree with, and I make sure to leave with concrete action items to work on. So far, I feel like Im getting further than I ever did in the past.
Remember that you are giving your time, money, and emotions to this process and this person. Those arent things to waste, so demand that you get what you need, and if you dont, find someone who will give you that. Being an adult is hard, and therapy can helpdont give up.
Additional reporting by Casey Gueren.
Describe What You Need Help With But Keep It Brief
There will be time later to go into specifics, but in your initial email to a therapist, a simple sentence or two about what youd like to address in therapy is sufficient. Some examples include:
- I struggle with anxiety and its affecting my daily life.
- I experienced a traumatic event and need help processing it.
- My partner and I are going through a divorce and would like for our child to talk to someone about it.
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Why Therapy And Not Medication
The thought of being able to solve your problems by taking a pill each day can sound appealing. If only it was that easy! Mental and emotional problems have multiple causes, and medication is not a one-stop cure.
Medication may help ease certain symptoms, but it comes with side effects. Furthermore, it cannot solve the big picture problems. Medication wont fix your relationships, help you figure out what to do with your life, or give you insight into why you continue to make unhealthy choices.
Therapy can be time consuming and challenging, as uncomfortable emotions and thoughts often arise as part of the treatment process. However, therapy provides long-lasting benefits beyond symptom relief. Therapy gives you the tools for transforming your lifefor relating better to others, building the life you want for yourself, and coping with whatever curveballs are thrown your way.
Make A List Of Topics To Cover
The first visit with any therapist can feel a bit awkward. After all, you are meeting with a stranger to discuss things you might be uncomfortable talking about. Where do you even begin? Rest assured, a therapist is an educated and skilled helper who will gently put you at ease and guide the first session. Still, arriving prepared with what you want to talk about during therapy can reduce anxiety.
Writing a list ahead of time of what you want to discuss during the first session can help.6 Create a list of topics in your journal that you might want to discuss at your first session. Having it with you when you meet with your therapist can help keep you centered and focused.
Consider including topics such as:
- Challenges you are currently facing that youd like to explore in later sessions
- Recent changes in yourself or life circumstances that prompted you to seek therapy
- Things you have already tried in order to feel better
- Observations from family or friends 3
- Information about your personal background 7
- How long youve been experiencing your current difficulties
It might feel intimidating at first to talk about some of these topics. As you prepare your list, consider what you want to say and jot down some notes to guide you during the session.
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