“It took me several years to finally build up the courage to go see my therapist. Once I did, I regretted that I wasted so many years being fearful of what it would be like. I not only developed a tool belt full of coping techniques to deal with my anxiety and stress, but I also learned a lot about why I do the things I do. Through processing, I was able to change some of my past beliefs, make behavioral changes to feel better about myself now, and am hopeful for my future. If you or anyone you know is on the fence about going to a therapist, GO!” – Client from 2017
Therapy is a process. If you think you’ll come in for a session or two and ‘be fixed’, you are barking up the wrong tree. Therapy takes dedication. It’s a process. In order to making lasting changes, you put in work, self evaluate, grow, and become more self aware. I want to share a guide to what the process looks like in general.
Session 1 – Intake – I get to know the client and understand what’s going on in their life (why they are coming in for counseling).
Sessions 2-4 – People share some of their deepest insecurities, mistakes, fears, and heartaches with counselors. It’s important that they feel safe and trust the therapist. So for the beginning few sessions, I really want to get to know the person sitting in front of me. I teach coping skills during these sessions, but the main goal is to build trust and understand what’s going on from the client’s perspective.
Sessions 4 – who knows? Depending on what you are coming in for, therapy can last anywhere from 8 to 30 sessions. I would say on average, my clients attend 12-15 sessions. After the trust has been established – processing occurs. This is where the true work comes in – a lot of self reflection, discussing the hurtful things in our past, or the fears of our future – identifying what we want and creating a path to get there – whether it be occupational, relational, or just overall well-being.
At any point when a client feel they’ve gained the tools they need, they can decide (or I suggest) to take a break from therapy to utilize the new skills they’ve gained and see how it goes. Sometimes the break is indefinite, other times it’s for a month or two. Sometimes I have clients come back for another set of sessions years later. Sometimes I have a client call for a refresher due to something intense occurring in their life.
Therapy can be a life changing thing for those willing to put in the work. It is work though. I don’t hold the secret pill to get over a mental health diagnosis or marriage problems, but I have experience, I’m well informed on current research, and I have tools to help people become the people they want to be and live the lives they wish to live.