The Journey Begins – Beginning Therapy
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Check out the Introduction to my blog here: Walking the Talk in Therapy Blog
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
Therapy, or psychotherapy, is the process of helping a person change their thoughts and behaviors to overcome emotional issues and/or learn new skills in order to function more effectively and live more productively in day-to-day life. The journey into therapy can be very exciting, but also come with its fair share of challenges and pitfalls as well! How can you begin your therapy journey the right way? This guide will provide you with tips on how to get started in therapy, what to expect during the process, and how to get the most out of it all along the way!
Tips to Consider Before Starting Therapy
Before you start therapy, it’s important to decide why you want to go. Are you looking for help with a specific issue? Do you want to work on your overall mental health? Once you know what you want to work on, you can start looking for a therapist that specializes in that area. Therapists come from different backgrounds and have different philosophies when working with clients. The good news is there are many therapists who specialize in multiple areas and even offer sliding scale rates if finances are an issue.
What the First Session Might Look Like
A first therapy session is typically focused on getting to know the client and establishing trust. The therapist will ask questions about your current situation, family history, and any other relevant information. They will also explain their approach to therapy and how they plan to work with you. This is a time for you to ask any questions you have and get a feel for whether or not this therapist is a good fit for you. Once the initial meeting is complete, your therapist will often discuss or collaborate with you on homework (such as journaling) to help you process thoughts and feelings in between sessions. Homework is not meant to be a tedious and unhelpful task but rather a practice activity or process so make sure you ask questions if you don’t understand or ask for alternatives if you feel an adjustment might help you be more likely to work on it between sessions.
What to Consider Bringing to Therapy
You may want to bring something to write notes with, as you will likely want to remember what is discussed in your first session. Your therapist may also provide you with some forms to fill out, which will help them get to know you better. Also be sure to bring any questions you may have wanted to be sure to ask and write them down so you don’t forget to bring them up in the first meeting.
It’s important to bring your insurance information with you to your first therapy session if you plan to use it to pay for sessions. This will help your therapist determine if they are able to accept your insurance. Many therapists are private or self-pay only and will discuss that process with you at your first session as well.
Making the Time for Therapy
Time is one of the most important aspects of therapy. It is important to find a therapist that you feel you can trust and connect with, but also one who has the time to see you on a regular basis. Life gets busy, and sometimes we have to make time for the things that are important to us. That being said, therapy is a commitment, and it is important to be prepared to put in the work. You may not see immediate results, but over time your life will change. If there are any questions about the process or what to expect, don’t hesitate to ask your therapist.
Myths VS. Realities in Therapy
A lot of people think that therapy is only for people who are crazy or need medication. The reality is that therapy is for everyone. It is a chance to work on skills that can help you in your everyday life, with or without medication. One thing to be aware of is that if you are taking medication, be sure to be consistent with taking and keeping appointments with your doctor. It sometimes is helpful to have a release on file for your therapist to be able to speak to your doctor and have collaborative treatment plans that help you get the most out of therapy and medication. When it comes down to it, every person will have their own journey and what works for one person may not work for another. It is important to do research about different types of therapy and find one that suits you best.
Is What We Talk About in Therapy Really Confidential?
In therapy, everything you say is confidential. Your therapist is bound by law to keep what you say private. This means that your therapist cannot tell anyone what you’ve said without your permission. The only exceptions to this rule are if you are a danger to yourself or others, or if there is suspicion of child abuse or elder abuse. Therapists do not release information to the police without a court order. If you would like someone else (such as a parent or a spouse) to know something about your therapy, you will need to give them written permission for us to share it with them. Therapists will sometimes discuss your treatment with other medical professionals to help with collaborative treatment planning. A release to speak to those professionals is usually obtained or discussed with you first.
So, Just To Recap
Therapy can be very helpful in healing from depression and other mental health issues. However, the process of beginning therapy can be daunting, especially if you are new to it. The first session can feel like an interview and it’s important to set your mind at ease as soon as possible so that you can establish trust with your therapist, which will go a long way toward getting the most out of your sessions and healing faster.
People often come into therapy expecting to change in some way. And while that can certainly be a benefit of therapy, it’s not the only one. People also come to therapy to learn more about themselves, to gain clarity and insight, to work through difficult life transitions, to heal from trauma, and to develop coping skills for managing anxiety or depression. In other words, there are many reasons why people seek out therapy, and each person will get something different out of it.
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