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“How Do I Start Therapy?”


Apr. 30, 2021 Psychology Today

Stepping into therapy can be a life-changing experience and the start of a journey that can take us through unexpected discoveries and insights. An unavoidable part of this is building a trusting relationship with a complete stranger: our therapist.

We will be revealing the deepest parts of ourselves, perhaps stories we might never have talked with anyone about before. It’s both exciting and daunting, and we want to make sure we create the best possibilities for an encouraging beginning to this journey of self-discovery. But where do we start?

Preparing for our journey

It is worth putting in a little effort to ensure we get the absolute best from our investment of emotions, time, and money. There are some very simple and practical preparations we can do to create a good foundation for our therapeutic journey.

Preparing will also build our confidence when we finally contact our chosen therapist. Plus, it will make us more comfortable engaging with therapy right from the beginning.

Which type of therapy is best for me and my issues?

Finding the right therapy for us and our issues can seem overwhelming: with so many different types of therapies available, how can we know which is the best for us?

We could say that any therapy is better than none, though to have the best chance of success it is worth considering our own requirements, rather than looking for a specific type of therapy. Here are some questions that might help:

  • Who is looking for therapy: is it us individually, or us and our partner, or us and a family member?

Some therapists specialize in working with individuals, these could be counsellors or psychotherapists. Others might have specialized in working with relationships such as couple’s counsellors or psychosexual and relationship therapists, or a family therapists.

Deciding who is seeking therapy will help us narrow down our search.

  • How do we prefer to work?

Some therapies are based on creating changes through giving homework and consciously changing thoughts and behaviors. Others are based mainly on making changes by talking, thinking, and reflecting on our thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and preoccupations. If we like a bit of both, then there is that option too.

Consider this: If we dislike homework and know that we are unlikely to carry out the required tasks between sessions, it is unlikely we will gain much from this type of therapy.

On the other hand, if we prefer homework, we might get frustrated by a therapy that is focused on talking and contemplating.

If we know what works best for us, we are more likely to find success in therapy. We can talk with the therapist during our initial conversation to clarify if their method suits our preferred way of working.

  • What is the main issue we are looking for help with?

Being able to name the issues we bring to therapy can make us feel a little more confident when we first contact a therapist and during our first session. Something as simple as asking ourselves why we feel in need of therapy can clarify if for example we feel overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, or scared.

These are not the only reasons to seek therapy and remember: no issue is too small or too big for therapy. Knowing a little about what we are seeking help with, will make our first conversation with a therapist easier.

Finding a therapist

It is always best to seek a therapist who is qualified, and who is accredited or licensed, and registered with one of many associations especially established for therapists.

We can try searching for ‘therapists associations’ online, which should give us a couple of choices close to where we live. If we are looking for a relationship or family therapist, we can add that description to our search, so we get results for the appropriate associations.

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