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Behind Closed Doors: What Happens in Therapy?

What happens in therapy - woman in sessionWant to give counselling a try, but not sure what happens in therapy?

Have questions such as, “Will my therapist think I’m crazy?”. “Do I really have to tell my shrink everything?”. Or, “Will my therapist be able to help?”

What happens in therapy?

Feeling sceptical or hesitant about something you have never tried before is natural, and this applies to therapy, too.

 You are far from alone in experiencing the issues that bought you to therapy. 

Yes, it is true, other people are also trying to handle the same or similar issues, no matter how strange you might feel you are. Many of them are in therapy as well. Combatting pre-therapy jitters is easier when you remember that you are not alone in your struggle, and that seeking therapy is quite common.

1. Therapists work differently.

Another aspect about therapy that you need to know is that not all therapists work in the same way. This is due to differences in training programs and schools of therapeutic thought, professional backgrounds, or the psychotherapy techniques they integrate into the therapy process.

For example, some therapists invite their clients to take off their shoes and get comfortable, laugh with them, clap when they try something new, cheer them when they succeed. They encourage reflection, teach their clients about the brain’s processes, or assign weekly “challenges” designed to encourage further accomplishments outside of therapy. Others may stay silent for most of the session and allow the client to do most of the talking.

Your therapist may or may not do any of the these things. Regardless of their professional style, your therapist should give emotional support while you are in therapy, and help you reflect upon your life challenges.

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2. If you keep an open mind it helps.

During your first appointment, it is helpful if you can keep an open mind. Allow yourself to experience the process, and notice how you feel during and afterwards.

It is essential, in order for therapy to be successful, that you feel comfortable in speaking with your therapist. Not all therapists will be right for you. But remember that everyone feels odd in a first session, and if you are in therapy there’s a high chance you have trust and relating issues so won’t feel comfortable with anyone at first. It can take time to determine if you can work well together. You may wish to have a few more sessions to see if it’s a fit and feelings will change. If after several sessions you still feel unsure about your therapist, you may wish to consider speaking with another.

3. You don’t have to know what to say or make sense.

Often clients worry about knowing what to speak about during therapy and they struggle over not having anything to say. With your therapist’s help, the two of you may wish to explore the reasons why you are struggling over what to say.

You may also be surprised to discover where your conversation will go in therapy if you do not try to plan what you are going to say. Free association is sometimes used here. It comes for psychoanalytic psychotherapy and is the process of saying the first thing that comes to your mind without censorship.

What actually comes up in the course of your therapy may come as a surprise to you. This is part of the “talking cure” and one of the reasons why therapy is effective.

4. Silence is ok too.

Other times in the course of a session there might be silence which can in fact be a powerful aid in therapy. Often, our lives are full of noise and “small talk” which may make silence strange at first, but later it can be very comforting. When we fill the therapy session “space” with words, this leaves room for nothing else. Think of therapy as a cup, if it is already “full” with words, is room for anything else?

Silence creates space for emotional experiences that would not typically occur when not present. It can offer the key to understanding ourselves at a deeper level.

Time to give therapy a try?

Taking the time for personal improvement and development can be very rewarding experience. Feeling nervous or unsure about starting therapy is normal, but once the right therapist is found this should pass. Working with the right professional will help you to feel comfortable enough to reflect upon your life and discover new ways to approach issues.

If you are considering undergoing therapy Harley Therapy Psychotherapy and Counselling have a team of experience therapists who can help you with your own personal development. You can call to find out more about what happens in therapy including the first assessment. 0845 474 1724.

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Blog Topics: Going to Therapy

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    Dr. Sheri Jacobson


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