A Guide To What You Should Expect From Therapy


The decision to start therapy can be a significant step in one’s journey toward mental well-being. For many, it may be accompanied by a mixture of hope, anxiety, and uncertainty. If you or someone you know is considering therapy, here’s a brief guide on what you can expect from the process.

1. The Initial Session: Setting the Stage

The first session is generally about getting to know your therapist and discussing what brought you to therapy. This may include discussing your goals, current challenges, and any relevant history. Remember, this is a two-way process. As much as the therapist is getting to know you, you’re also evaluating them to ensure they’re the right fit.

2. Establishing Trust and Safety

Building a trusting relationship with your therapist is pivotal. It may take a few sessions (or even longer) for you to feel completely comfortable. This is normal. Therapy is a space where you’ll be sharing intimate details of your life, so feeling safe and trusting your therapist is paramount.

3. The Pace Varies

The journey of therapy is different for everyone. Some individuals might experience breakthroughs early on in occupational therapy, while for others, progress might feel slow. The key is patience. Your therapist will work with you to navigate through your feelings and challenges at a pace that feels comfortable for you.

4. Exploring Emotions and Patterns

One of the core aspects of therapy is understanding patterns – be they behavioral, emotional, or cognitive. Your therapist will often help you explore these patterns, allowing you to recognize them in your daily life. This understanding can be crucial in fostering change.

5. Facing Discomfort

There will be times in therapy when you will confront painful emotions or memories. This is a natural part of the healing process. A skilled therapist will guide you through these moments, providing the necessary support and coping strategies.

6. Learning New Skills

Apart from self-exploration, therapy often involves learning new skills. This can range from communication techniques and stress-reduction strategies to methods for managing anxiety or depression.

7. Periodic Reviews

Over time, you and your therapist will occasionally review your progress. This helps ensure that you’re moving towards your goals and allows for any necessary adjustments in your therapeutic journey.

8. Ending Therapy

Contrary to some beliefs, therapy doesn’t have to be a lifelong commitment. Once you and your therapist feel that you’ve achieved your goals or developed the necessary tools to manage on your own, you might decide to end therapy. This process, often called “termination,” is a natural part of the therapeutic journey and can be as essential as the sessions themselves.

Tips for Making the Most of Therapy

  • Openness: While it’s okay to take your time to trust and share, being open with your therapist can enhance the process. Remember, everything you discuss is confidential.
  • Regular Attendance: Consistency can be beneficial in therapy. Regular sessions allow for momentum and continuous progress.
  • Feedback: If something isn’t working or if you have concerns about the therapy process, communicate with your therapist. They are there to help and adjust as needed.
  • Self-compassion: Understand that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Be patient with yourself; personal growth is a journey with its ups and downs.

In conclusion, therapy can be a transformative experience, offering insights, growth, and healing. While each person’s experience is unique, understanding the general trajectory and having realistic expectations can make the process smoother and more beneficial. Remember, therapy is an investment in oneself, and with the right therapist and approach, it can pave the way for a brighter, healthier future.