Perhaps you have been to therapy before or maybe this is your first time. Regardless, it is a new relationship and an attempt to get perspective and help from a different resource and requires thoughtful consideration. There is no "one way" that all therapists work and, hence, it is good to ask yourself what you expect and want from your therapist and the experience itself. It is also important to have some idea what you can expect from the first few sessions and even beyond. Please do know that we expect you to have questions and value your feedback at any time about how you feel the process is going.
In the initial sessions the therapist will try to get to know you and the general idea of the challenges that led you to seek therapy. While all therapists have a particular style or approach to the counseling process, these days there are many different ways toward achieving goals-whether they be symptom elimination, healing from a loss, reconciling a broken relationship or gaining freedom from chronic worry and stress. While some questions may not seem relevant, getting the context and history of a particular problem is immensely important in determining direction and the process of goal setting. From a broad perspective, it is reasonable to expect that fairly early in the process the therapist will have suggestions, handouts or homework in order to assess which particular style is most appropriate for you. We all grow, change and learn in different ways and some techniques may not feel 'right' for you. It is important to explore what approaches have or haven't worked for you and build on any positive steps from the past. Psychotherapy is not like going to an M.D. where one gets a prescription that hopefully helps with the problem. Rather it is highly collaborative and depends on your willingness to invest emotionally in the process. You may be asked to try behaviors that feel awkward or difficult (for example, rather than distracting from an anxiety attack letting yourself feel it and track it in your body as a way of 'desensitizing' to the feelings). But many times symptoms emerge because our current way of managing stress simply is not working anymore and do continue doing the same thing only makes it worse. We are about CHANGE and what will make that happen and help it last long term.
How long will therapy last and how often will we meet? These are common and understandable questions. There is no way of predicting how therapy will go-no one has the crystal ball on this matter. But, what is important is that you discuss your hopes and fears about this with the therapist and that you both mutually agree to review and assess your progress frequently. Certainly, we hope that with the first 8-10 sessions you will notice improvement, whether that be in lessening of symptoms (like depression or anxiety) or feeling more hopeful and in control of your life. It also is not uncommon for one to experience some intensifying of feelings or discomfort at first. This is because the process of looking deeply is like removing the scab from a wound that really hasn't healed-for awhile it may appear 'worse' but actually it is cleansing and preparing for deeper healing. It should be noted that not everyone experiences this phenomenon but if it does occur it is generally manageable and with your therapist's help can be understood and progress achieved.
Your journey into psychotherapy can open up new ways of looking at yourself, others and life. While not to be taken lightly we believe it can be infused with joy and help restore humor and comfortableness being alive and more deeply yourself. We welcome the opportunity to discuss this process more fully and trust that you will find hope and direction for your effort and trust in us.
What Can I Expect From Therapy?
Making the decision to see a counselor/psychotherapist and meeting with him or her is a bigger step than many people realize. You are risking sharing very important and personal information and feelings with a total stranger in an environment that is different than a normal friendship. This endeavor takes courage and we honor the trust you are showing by coming to us for guidance and help.
Copyright Counseling Associates of MA & NH, LLC 2018. All rights reserved.