What’s it like to be in therapy? A therapist shares the ins and outs

By Anne Peters, LMFT

If you’ve never been in therapy (or it’s been a while), the thought of going may produce some anxiety with not knowing what to expect. I’m here to give you some general ins and outs of what it’s like, so you know what to expect when you walk in the door (whether it’s in person or virtually). The movies portray therapy as lying on the couch while your therapist takes notes. This is not reality. Generally speaking, therapists aim to create a space where you feel at ease and safe. All therapists do things differently, so your experience might slightly vary. Just know one thing: A therapist’s job is to meet you where you are at and provide a safe and comfortable environment.

Making an Appointment
Here at LSI, the first step is to call our Central Intake department. They will gather information from you including your name, date of birth, insurance information, location, and what you’re hoping to address in therapy. They will then either offer you an appointment, or coordinate with a therapist and return a call to you with an appointment time. Remember, right now appointments are available both in person AND through telehealth.

Initial Appointment
Then, it’s time for your first appointment with your new therapist! This appointment is generally full of paperwork and lots of information gathering. Information such as family history, medical history, current stressors, and strengths will be addressed. This a great time for you to ask questions, too! If you have questions about the therapy process, please ask. Your therapist will provide you with some recommendations and set up your next appointment.

Ongoing Sessions
This is where the real work and discovery happens. You and your therapist will come up with some treatment goals in order to stay on track with the target area of need. Then, your therapist will utilize an evidence-based treatment modality – like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), just to name a few – to guide you in reaching your goals. Feel free to ask if your therapist has not shared which modality they plan to use. Get ready for some self-discovery and for some progress to be made!

Once you’ve found yourself at a point where you’re ready to successfully end your time in therapy, termination will occur. This is a great moment – congratulations! You and your therapist will discuss skills you can continue to use, and ways you can contact your therapist if you need to come back for a “booster” session. You did the hard work!

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