Making the decision to begin therapy for the first time can take a lot of thought and time, and can result in you having questions about what it involves and what it might be like. Below are the answers to some common questions that you may have.
How does therapy work?
Therapy is very individual and specific to the person having it. Each person will bring their own needs and ways of interacting, and the relationship with the therapist will be unique to each client. There are similarities however; all therapists will view their clients without judgement and will do their best to help them at all times. It is common for clients and therapists to spend some time together thinking about what the person wants to get out of the therapy sessions and create goals around this together to help shape the course of the work. It is also common to spend some time thinking about and planning for the ending therapy sessions together.
What is the difference between talking to a loved one or a therapist?
Talking to a friend or family member is great and can offer lots of benefits and chances to share how you are feeling, however talking to a therapist is slightly different. Therapists have undertaken training that allows them to understand the theories and ideas around what could be causing distress, and apply these to your situation. This helps you both to try supportive approaches that are evidence based and focused. Also, having a therapist that is not directly related or close to you allows you to feel more open and honest.
What will I talk about?
Sessions are always led by you and you will never be forced to talk about anything that you don’t feel able to. It is important to think with a therapist about what could be contributing to what is going on for you, and this could involve thinking about your childhood or other significant events in your life. Sometimes, what you talk about could feel difficult and your therapist will support you with this.
Do I have to be mentally unwell to see a therapist?
No, anyone can see a therapist and people come to therapy for support with a broad range of issues including trauma, attachment disruptions, anxiety, low mood, grief and phobias. People can also have therapy for more enduring and serious mental health difficulties but this is not something that needs to be present in order to seek help.
Is it okay to have sessions virtually via Zoom?
This is absolutely fine and up to personal preference. Some people prefer to have sessions virtually in their own homes whilst others like to be face to face.
What sort of therapy will I have?
There are many different types of therapy available and some therapists work in an integrative way, drawing on a wide variety of ideas and theory to support their understanding. Others are more specialised and will offer Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which focuses on the link between thoughts, feelings and behaviours or more attachment focused therapies for people who have had attachment disruption or developmental trauma.
Who will my therapist talk to about what I say?
Therapists are bound by strict ethical guidelines around confidentiality. They will usually talk with you at the beginning of the session about this and be clear about how they will keep anything that you talk about private. There are some exceptions to confidentiality and those are usually if you disclose that you are at risk from others or are a risk to yourself. If this happens, your therapist will make a plan with you about how to move forwards with this.
How many sessions will I need?
This is variable and will depend on your need and preference, as well as the availability or constraints of the service that you are accessing. Some clients will have as few as 6 sessions and some will have more long-term work.
How will I know if it is working?
This is a very difficult question to answer as everyone is so unique and their experiences are so different. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that therapy really helps people to work through difficult things in their lives and make sense of how they feel in a safe and supported environment. There is also an element of feeling comfortable with your therapist and ensuring that they feel like a good fit for you. It is okay to change therapists if you don’t feel happy and this is not a reflection on you or them.