Author: Tina Avila, LMFT
When it comes to starting therapy, many people have many expectations and questions. You may have questions like, How long will I have to be in therapy? or What do I need to bring?
It’s normal to have lots of questions, especially if you’re going into therapy for the first time, so I’ll try to cover most of the basics here.
If you have more questions after reading this article, please feel free to contact me directly with your inquiries at any time.
1. They’ll ask about you
The first step in the therapeutic process is to get to know you. Asking questions such as, What are your goals? What are some of your concerns? and Where do you want to be at the end of this process? will help your therapist understand what you're looking for from treatment.
They’ll teach you how to self-manage: Therapists teach their clients skills that they can use on their own in order to manage their mental health problems. They may give you homework: in order for therapy to have an impact, it needs to happen outside of sessions too!
A lot of therapists assign tasks outside the session called homework. Homework can be anything from reading a book about a particular topic or practicing a skill with a friend.
2. They’ll make sure you understand your diagnosis
It's important to understand your diagnosis, so that you can make informed decisions about your treatment. A mental health professional will work with you to help you understand the diagnosis, what it means for your condition, and what treatments are available for it. They'll also be able to answer any questions you have.
They'll never criticize or judge: Having a mental illness is difficult enough without having someone else put you down as well. A therapist won't do that. In fact, they're supposed to provide a non-judgmental environment where you can talk openly without fear of reprisal. They'll give guidance on how to manage your symptoms:
A therapist has years of training in helping people manage their symptoms through therapy sessions and other tools such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Their goal is for you to feel better about yourself and learn ways of coping with anxiety or depression so that it doesn't get out of control again.
3. They won’t diagnose your friends or family
A mental health therapist is not a diagnostician. They cannot diagnose your friends or family members, but they can help you understand the situation and what you can do to support them. It’s important to note that many therapists specialize in specific fields like PTSD, substance abuse, etc. If you are seeking treatment for something other than those areas of expertise then it’s best to find someone who specializes in that area.
4. They won’t disclose any information without consent
Your therapist can’t share any information with anyone else without your permission. If you are ever worried that someone might be able to find out what you discuss in therapy, talk to your therapist about it. They will work with you to come up with a plan that is best for your situation.
It may take time for you and your therapist to get to know each other and for them to understand the best way of working with you. Your relationship should grow into something deeper as time goes on so don’t expect all of your goals to be met at the beginning of treatment.
5. The session will be a safe space to talk freely
A mental health therapist's office is a safe space to talk about anything and everything without fear of judgement. I will listen, ask questions, and offer feedback. These are the three most important things you can expect from your mental health therapist: to listen, ask questions, and offer feedback.
The goal of therapy is to empower people with the skills they need in order to live life with more ease and intentionally while decreasing or eliminating symptoms such as depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, etc
The key is establishing trust, which takes time and patience on both sides. I am here to support you and help you learn new ways of coping with old difficulties. Together we will work towards changing your perspective on life so that you are empowered by your strengths rather than weighed down by what holds you back.
6. They won't try to control anything beyond the therapeutic relationship
One of the things you can expect from your mental health therapist is that they will not try to control anything beyond the therapeutic relationship. In most cases, this means that they will not prescribe medications for you or tell you what to do outside of our sessions.
They'll also never ask you for personal information beyond what we've discussed in therapy. This is because it would be unethical and a violation of confidentiality to share these things without your consent.
In conclusion , remember that when you find a therapist who's right for you, they're going to be there with you through all of the tough times. Just like any other close friend or family member, sometimes you might have disagreements but at the end of the day, their goal is to support your healing process and help get through whatever obstacles are standing in your way.