What to Expect from Therapy

What To Expect From Therapy

By | December 13, 2018 | self-care, wellness

With the increased awareness of mental health issues in our country and the work being done to help break the stigma around mental illness, more people are talking about their experiences in therapy and are more willing to seek it out.

Given that it hasn’t always been an open subject, many are still confused about where to start and what to expect. We’ve compiled a basic overview of what therapy entails to help make the process a little less daunting. Remember, getting help is perfectly normal and hopefully these tips will help!

There are different types of practitioners

The main types of practitioners are psychologists (PsyD), psychiatrists (M.D.), and social workers (LCSW). Each is important and beneficial, and it’s up to you to decide which one works best. Some are covered by insurance and some may not be, so if you are insured, make sure to check with your insurance company to figure out what you best option would be.

What to expect from therapy: There are different types of practitioners
Bear in mind that psychiatrists, because of their medical training, can prescribe medication whereas few states allow psychologists to prescribe psychiatric medications. A psychologist, however, can help provide the initial assessment to determine if medication is an appropriate course of treatment.

Finding the right one is important

There are many different types of therapy, each with a different methodology to achieve results. Do some research on different types and choose the one that you feel will be the best for accomplishing whatever goals you may have.

What to expect from therapy: Find the right one that works for you
Most therapist will offer to answer questions about their practice, methodology, and background over the phone before you decide to make an initial appointment. They may also ask you questions to ensure they’re the best fit for your needs,

Take the time to find someone you feel comfortable with or you’ll likely be disappointed with your results. You may not mesh well with the first therapist you meet, so don’t be afraid to try a different therapist until you find one that feels right. You should feel like your therapist’s office is a safe space, so if it doesn’t, you may need to keep searching.

It doesn’t have to be for a crisis

Although many people initially seek out therapy to help with a specific problem, therapy can be as innocuous as talking about things that stress you out on a regular basis. Therapists are equipped with a plethora of tools that you can easily implement in your life for more common issues or they can help you through some serious struggles.

What to expect from therapy: It doesn't have to be a crisis
Like going to the dentist, therapy can be looked at as a part of regular maintenance for overall health and wellbeing. 

You set the pace and timeline

One of the biggest roadblocks to starting therapy is the hesitation that you’ll have to go “forever.” While there are certainly people who need more help than others, if you reach a point where you feel like you no longer need help or aren’t getting anything out of your sessions anymore, communicate that with your therapist. Sometimes all you may have needed was a short period of time to work through something.

What to expect from therapy: you set the pace
Remember, these sessions are about you. You don’t have to rush — therapy isn’t always easy and it may take several appointments to get in stride. However, if don’t feel like therapy is going anywhere, it may be time to find a new therapist.

You’ll have to do work

Therapy is a two-way street. You can’t go in, dump your problems, and then expect a miraculous cure to solve them all. You’re going to have to complete “homework,” learn coping mechanisms, and potentially have difficult discussions with others. It’s going to get uncomfortable at times. Remember, if it was easy, you’d likely be able to do it by yourself.

What to expect from therapy: You'll have to do work
View therapy as a collaboration. Depending on their methodology, some therapists may even give you “homework” to work on between sessions. This may include readings, worksheets, or practicing behaviors.

It helps to have an objective party’s opinion. You may not always like it, but it helps you gain a different perspective, which allows you to be more open-minded about what is going on in your life.

Expect emotions in therapy

A lot of things can come up in therapy. This means a lot of emotions can come up as well. While that may scare some people away, keep in mind that there’s generally also relief, understanding, forgiveness, hope, and other positive emotions. That being said, it’s also a safe place to express those emotions and work through them with a trained practitioner.

Dealing with raw, maybe suppressed, emotions can be difficult and may even trigger tears. Crying can be therapeutic, too, as long as you feel the therapist’s office is a safe and comfortable zone where you feel ok doing so.

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