What to Expect in Therapy
“Thank you, your appointment has been confirmed,” you read, pausing with a sigh of relief that you are finally seeking the help you deserve. As a society, we are breaking down the stigma that therapy isn’t just for people with major mental health issues that need medication. But, it can still be difficult to talk to someone about what’s going on in your life. And if you’ve never been to therapy before, the appointment confirmation is just step one, while the next steps aren’t so clear. Some anxiety-inducing thoughts may arise such as “Do I need to start from the beginning of my life or what’s happening now? What if I don’t like my therapist, don’t want to open up yet, and they tell me something like I don’t need therapy?”
Often, my instructors at the yoga studio I visit will say “The hardest part is showing up,” which reigns true even for therapy. Therapy, much like yoga and other exercise activities, requires dedication and self-investment and can be part of your self-care. Some days are harder than others due to the emotional and mental work you’re doing in therapy similar to the physical stress your body is put through when exercising. The end result, however, often leads to better overall well-being.
Helpful Things to Remember and Expect in Therapy:
You Will Not Find “The Answer” in the First Session.
We all want quick fixes. We all want to heal as fast as possible. With that being said, it may be a little disheartening to hear that you won’t necessarily automatically feel completely better or healed within the first session. Therapy takes time and inner work. The hope is that, while you may not feel completely better within the first session, you do leave each of your sessions feeling like you’ve gained better insight into what may be going on in your life and how to proceed forward in your own healing journey.
Therapy Goals are Collaborative Between You and Your Therapist.
Every therapist you see will create a treatment plan. This helps you and your therapist determine what goals you have for getting better and helps to monitor your progress. Sometimes we may walk into therapy knowing exactly what we want to accomplish, and other times, it may not be so simple for us. Regardless of which way you may lean, it’s important to discuss goals you have in mind with your therapist and seek out what other goals they may see you need to both work on together.
You Don’t Have to Tell Your Therapist Anything You Aren’t Ready To.
Often, one of the biggest stressors for people seeking a therapist is not finding the right one right away and having to share your story over and over again. This can feel really exhausting or make you feel like “Maybe I shouldn’t have shared so much.” It is OK to not share anything you are not ready to right away. Therapy is a process, and there is no specific timeframe in which you need to or don’t need to share.
“How Does That Make You Feel” Is Not the Only Statement You’ll Hear Your Therapist Say.
When we’ve seen “Hollywood-like” portrayals of therapists, it’s typically been someone saying “How does that make you feel?” and scribbling away on a notepad as you’re saying your answer. Sometimes, you’ll hear this phrase. Sometimes you won’t. While feelings are important to identify in therapy, it’s not the only thing you do or talk about. Other things you’ll discuss in therapy include learning psychoeducation or the “why behind things,” coping skills for a variety of emotional responses or trauma processing, behavior management
strategies, and skills to improve your relationships such as healthy communication and active listening.
Your First Therapist May or May Not Be Your Last Therapist (For a Good Reason).
People change therapists for many different reasons. You might get lucky and find that the first person you see perfectly matches you. For others, maybe it takes going through multiple appointments or appointments with different therapists before you feel comfortable sharing your story. Maybe down the line, your therapist leaves the practice they’re with or insurance changes and you have to consider new options. Another thing to remember is that it’s perfectly normal to stop therapy at any point in time and resume later, whether it’s with the same therapist you had before or with a new one. Remember, healing is an ongoing process, not a destination.
Begin Therapy in Madison, WI
If you feel you are ready to begin therapy, contact us today at Golden Vibes Counseling Center to set up an appointment with one of our therapists! Our team of caring therapists would be honored to support you from our Madison, WI-based practice. Start your therapy journey by following these simple steps today:
Contact our team to schedule an appointment
Get to know a therapist from our trained team
Start receiving the mental health support you deserve!
Other Services Offered with Golden Vibes Counseling
We know that you may experience more than one mental health concern you may need support in addressing. This is why we are happy to offer a number of services to support you including anxiety therapy, adolescent counseling, BIPOC therapy, child therapy, and clinical supervision. We are also happy to offer therapy for college students, couples therapy, depression treatment, terapia en español, gender-affirming care, grief therapy, and LGBTQ+ therapy. Other services offered include OCD treatment, poly-affirming therapy, psych assessments, reproductive health, stress management, trauma therapy, sexual abuse treatment, and therapy for athletes.