Therapy: What’s it Like?

Some people have no idea what to expect the first time they go to therapy. They know only what they have seen on TV-formal offices, doctors in suits, couches, fancy artwork on the walls. I don’t want to lead you to believe that some offices aren’t like this. And yes, some therapists wear suits. But many of us don’t.  I don’t even own a suit. 

The decision to go to therapy is a personal one made for lots and lots of reasons. And, quite frankly, you don’t really need a reason to go to therapy. You can just go and check it out if you feel like it would be helpful for you.

There are lots of ways to “check out” a therapist before you even set foot in the person’s office. Ask around for recommendations. Check out the professional’s website, credentials, and place a phone call to get a “quick feel” for the person over the phone. Therapists are happy to be interviewed, if you prefer.  Just know that you may be charged for the hour. Therapists are great at asking questions. We have been trained for years to do so. Think about what you want to know from the therapist before you go in and I recommend bringing in a list of these questions. For example, “What is your style of practice?” is a question I’m commonly asked. People ask me about my hours, what kind of time is involved in the process, and about my experience in the profession.  Any question is a fair question; just know that there are some questions a therapist may not answer.

What? You mean the therapist is a going to ask me lots of questions but he/she may not answer mine? Well, yes!  In our profession, we are trained to create boundaries to help you, the client, work through the issues you came to see us help you work through. In order to do this, we need to create a safe space and one that isn’t about “us”, the therapists, but rather about “you” the client. In order to do so, we typically don’t tell you much about our personal lives.  This is for your benefit.  For the same reasons, when we see you in public, we won’t wave you down and draw attention to you. This is for your privacy and for our privacy too.

Of course, every therapist works differently and provides you with a different “feel”.  But I hope after you read this the process feels a little less out there.

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