What to Expect
If this is the first time you’ve thought about starting therapy, you’re probably filled with many questions and want to know what to expect. Even if you’ve seen a counselor/therapist in the past, you may also be wondering what to expect. I hope the information below can reduce some of your apprehension or worry as I answer some common questions.
IS THERAPY RIGHT FOR ME?
This is a great question. Yet, this is a question that you will need to decide and answer for yourself. However, I can share with you some of the things I believe therapy offers and can provide to you. Seeking counseling is an incredibly personal decision. I assume you are reading this because you are feeling a need to reach out for some kind of professional support. Perhaps you are thinking about seeking therapy because:
- There is an issue you don’t believe you can talk to your partner, family, or friends about
- You feel lonely and uncertain about how to make things better for yourself
- You don’t think you should burden those around you with the difficulties that you are having
- You need to feel heard and supported, and it doesn’t seem like that is happening for you
These are just a few important reasons to seek therapy. If something is happening for you that is painful, causing you stress, or you are struggling and feeling anxious, depressed, or fearful, receiving professional assistance and support is something that can be extremely helpful.
HOW OFTEN IS THERAPY?
You will decide how often you come to counseling. Most people attend sessions weekly. I think it works best if people make a commitment for at least the first 6 weeks to meet weekly. If you find yourself working through a crisis or an emotionally difficult or painful time, you may choose to meet twice a week.
HOW LONG DOES THERAPY LAST?
Counseling lasts as long as you decide it needs to. What length of sessions we have, how often we meet or for how many weeks, months, or longer we meet is always your decision. When someone wants to work on a specific coping skill or a specific change and they can maintain focus on that one central theme, counseling can be short-term such as 6-8 sessions. Whereas, if a person wants to explore patterns of issues like poor self-care, negative beliefs about themselves that stem from childhood, addiction-related issues, chronic illness concerns. long-term depression, or unresolved grief, etc., therapy may be long term. However, it is always up to you. Throughout our time together, I will check in with you to make sure we are still working on your goals and spending our time together on whatever is most important to you. I always want to make sure I am being supportive and helpful to you.
IS THERAPY CONFIDENTIAL?
Yes, therapy is confidential, and nobody has to know you are seeking therapy. State and Federal laws protect your confidential and private healthcare information, and your information cannot be disclosed without your written permission.
However, as a therapist, I am required to follow legal and ethical expectations, guidelines, and laws within my scope of practice. Therefore, there are exceptions to confidentiality. They are as follows:
- Suspected child abuse or dependent adult or elder abuse, for which I am required by law to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
- If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person(s), I must notify the police and inform the intended victim.
- If a client intends to harm himself or herself, I will make every effort to enlist their cooperation in ensuring their safety. If they do not cooperate, I will take further measures without their permission that are provided to me by law in order to ensure their safety.
DO I JUST TALK DURING SESSIONS?
In addition to talking and exploring your goals, we will determine what new skills you would like to learn. You may be interested in learning how to talk to someone in your life about a concern or issue, how to calm your anxiety down when you are in certain situations, or how to work on acceptance of something you cannot change. These things involve identifying, learning about, and developing new or expanded skills. We would practice these in session and help you get familiar with them so you can then practice them and eventually incorporate them into your daily living.
DOES GOING TO THERAPY MEAN I'M CRAZY?
Absolutely not. Seeking out therapy doesn’t mean you are crazy or have a mental illness. It does, however, mean that you have courage, and a willingness and desire to change, and you know you need help to do it successfully. I would venture to guess you have already tried to do several things to improve your situation. Reaching out for counseling is the next step because whatever you have been doing hasn’t gotten you to the point you want to be.
Seeking counseling is an investment in yourself.
Therapy is a proactive decision to improve your life, help yourself, and a proactive choice to build improved relationships with yourself and others.
When people seek counseling with me I realize it can be scary and worrisome. A therapeutic relationship is one that needs to be safe, comfortable, and supportive. I will do my best to respect and honor your trust.