It is not uncommon to have some concerns about going to therapy. After all, you will need to talk about a part of your life that you are struggling with and you may have been unsure about seeking help. Knowing what you can expect in therapy might help you make this important decision and put your mind at ease.
The first session will start by going over and signing the:
- the Informed Consent form;
- the Release or Exchange of Information Form,
- an Anxiety and Depression Scale of the choice of the therapist,
- and completing a risk assessment.
After these formalities, your counsellor will begin gathering the information about your history and presenting concerns. You can expect to provide in-depth information about your symptoms, current coping strategies and relevant life history. This will help your therapist understand the causes of your distress and formulate the right therapeutic approach to address your needs. Completing this process can sometimes take more than one session depending on your answers and the complexity of your problem.
Please contact your therapist and inquire if the intake package could be sent to you prior to your appointment for completion. This could ensure that your time with the therapist is spent most efficiently.
Once your therapist completes the intake, your counselling sessions will begin to change. To start with, you will feel more comfortable talking to your counsellor about your problems as your alliance is formed. You and your therapist will formulate a treatment plan, but as you will be the main author of your progress, it will be up to you to identify the focus of each session. Therefore, it is important to be prepared for your sessions, consider how the selected topic fits into your treatment plan, and to complete any assigned homework. Because life is unpredictable, it is not unusual that sometimes clients choose to address an issue that is not fully relevant to the original presenting concern. While this is perfectly acceptable, it is important for you to know that over time this can slow down progress on the originally identified issue.
In therapy sessions, you can expect to be asked questions that may provoke in-depth considerations and elicit ‘aha’ moments or deep emotions. Your counsellor may also provide you with pyschoeducation, ask you to complete questionnaires, or suggest a variety of therapeutic interventions. Rest assured, you will be in the driver seat in each session and your therapist will explain the relevance of each intervention and request prior approval.
Your progress will be regularly evaluated and when you feel ready, you may move onto bi-weekly or monthly sessions. Eventually, your counsellor will begin preparation for terminating your therapy sessions. This is an exciting time as it indicates that you have developed good coping strategies, feel significantly better and are ready to deal confidently with future life challenges. However, termination of therapy does not mean the end of your therapeutic relationship. You can book a follow up appointment any time you feel the need for a booster session or if you decide to address a new concern.