So, this is it. You’ve thought about looking in to having counselling for a while. You’re now at the point where you’ve had a look online and started to identify a local therapist you may decide you want to contact and go and see. Well first of all, well done on taking that first step! Counselling can be a hugely empowering and positive experience and if you’re also contemplating making that step, read on for a few considerations when starting therapy.
- We are all individuals, we are all unique in our needs, our desires and our histories. As a result, what may be important for you when starting therapy may not be a priority for the next person.
The most important thing in any therapy is the relationship that you have with your therapist. There is much research to suggest that the modality of therapy undertaken by the therapist is not as important as the connection you may be able to build with that person. It’s advisable to meet a few therapists and have initial talks with them before committing to therapy with one. Take time to find your feet in regards to what you feel you want and need from a therapist. You may not necessarily be able to articulate what it is that just “feels right” but do go with your gut instinct on who feels right.
2. Starting therapy is a major deal!
Starting out on your therapy journey can be a daunting experience and is a big deal. You may want to discuss something that has been not working for you for years, or it may be a big financial commitment to consider starting therapy. Whatever is going on for you, be assured that your therapist will be looking to offer a safe and comfortable environment for you to be able to bring any of your concerns and questions. Your therapist will be aware that meeting someone for the first time can be a nervous time, especially as this may be the person you could end up discussing issues you haven’t mentioned to anyone else before!
3. Therapy can take time
There’s no prescribed length of what makes for the “right” length of a therapeutic relationship. Loosely 6-12 sessions may be considered shorter term and 12+ sessions may be considered longer term but it is entirely different from one person to the next. Together with your therapist you will be able to discuss issues important to you and together you can work out what may be a suggested length of time to work together. This is always negotiable and can be revised at any point. What is important to remember though is that you will always have control and input over how long you would like to work together and your therapist will be available to respond appropriately to what you want to do. Your therapist may offer suggestions as to how that works and plays out between you but this is your therapy and it needs to work for you.
4. You may be nervous…or you may be excited!
Now you know what you’re doing is a big deal, you may feel nervous ahead of meeting your therapist for the first time. This is perfectly normal! During your assessment and initial sessions your therapist will be asking more questions with an aim of getting a better idea of what is going on for you and whether she is going to be the best person for you. Together you will be looking to find out if you will be able to work together. You need to feel comfortable with the person that you will see every week and while it may not be immediately obvious whether you have a full feel for your therapist, you will probably have an inkling and a gut feeling of whether you want to return and start therapy with them. As well as nerves, you may also be feeling excited! Excitement and nervousness are similar on how and where we feel them in our body so maybe it’s excitement, maybe it’s nerves, either would be natural responses and your therapist will be open to whatever may be going on for you during that first meeting.
5. Your therapist won’t label you as crazy
Therapy is a non-judgemental and safe space for you to explore anything pertinent to you. Your sessions are a time and space for you and your therapist is there to provide a secure and boundaried environment for you to explore your issues at your own pace.
Click here to read more on starting therapy.