Stage 1 – Getting Started
It isn’t easy to choose a therapist. Therapy is most effective when you are comfortable with your therapist. You have most likely done your due diligence in researching a therapist. Once you have read about them and possibly called them to ask questions as well, commit to meeting with the therapist for at least three sessions. At that point, you and your therapist will have a good idea if it is a good fit and what the goals for treatment will be. It should be noted that the first session is very different than most other sessions. Come to your first session prepared with the initial paperwork for new clients. Going over the paperwork will take up at least half of the first session. The goal of the first session is for you to share what you feel the therapist needs to know about your situation, and for the therapist to simply listen and get to know you.
Stage 2 – Keeping Momentum
Therapy is solely about you. While your therapist is happy to lead sessions, has many ideas for directing the process, and many tools and resources to pull from, you know yourself and your needs best. Don’t be shy about letting your therapist know what you are comfortable with, what problems you hope to address, and the types of services you are looking for. Ask a lot of questions. Feel free to direct the sessions and say, “This is what I would like to talk about today.” It is especially helpful to the therapist when you come to sessions having thought through what you would like to discuss and are prepared with an update of sorts to start out the session. Follow through with your appointments and any assignments agreed upon outside of sessions. Last but not least, talk with your therapist about what you find helpful and what you find difficult. If something makes you happy or upset, share that with your therapist. If logistics such as scheduling or finances become a concern, talk it through with your therapist so they can better accommodate your needs.
Stage 3 – The End
Ending treatment will be an open topic of conversation throughout treatment. It should be a mutual decision based on the client’s opinions and needs as well as the therapist’s recommendations. It is typical for sessions to taper off as the therapy progresses. For example, many clients start treatment by attending weekly, then biweekly, then monthly, and so on. Whether treatment is brief or long term, the goal is always for therapy to end positively. Part of the therapeutic process may involve your therapist referring you to different or additional clinicians in an effort to assist you. Ideally, treatment will conclude when you both feel treatment is complete. Ultimately, ending treatment should involve healthy communication and resolution. It is also common and encouraged for clients to return for check-ups or on an as-needed basis.