You’re probably here because you’re suffering. You may have tried to make changes in your life, yet have not been successful. Therapy with a trained professional can help you get unstuck and move forward in your life. The first part of the process is getting to know yourself better, because we can’t change what we don’t know. As you begin the process of therapy, I will be right there to get to know you and build trust with you. I will also help you see areas that may be “blind spots” for you. Together, we will help you gain awareness of overall patterns in your life that may have become barriers to living the way you would like.
The second part of the process is helping you develop skills and tools to make changes in your life. You will learn how to manage your feelings more productively, overcome past hurts, reduce unhealthy coping behaviors, and have more happiness and satisfaction in your life.
Therapy works as a partnership between the two of us. Together, we make an agreement to explore your concerns and work toward achieving your goals. If you want to get the most out of therapy, it’s important to be engaged with the process and be open to trying new skills. Therapy works when you gain awareness into your behaviors, and are willing to take action to make changes.
It’s good to talk about what therapy can’t do, too. Therapy is generally not a quick fix. Meaningful and lasting change takes time and effort. It has likely taken you a long time to develop the challenges you face, and it will take time to alter those patterns. Therapy also doesn’t work to change someone else (unless they’re in therapy with you) so as you begin this work, I encourage you to be willing to look at your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to assess the areas you want to change.
In the first session my goal is to get to know you so I can best support you. During our initial appointment I’ll try to get a general understanding of your situation, and what you’d like to work toward. I’ll be working to build an environment of safety so that you can feel as comfortable as possible. We’ll explore what’s keeping you stuck and what changes you’d like to make in your life. It’s important to think of the first session as both an exploration and goal setting experience.
During the first session, and in subsequent appointments, I encourage you to ask me any questions you may have about the process of therapy. I also appreciate any feedback you have, both positive and constructive. I’m flexible, so if I’m missing the mark or not quite “getting it” please let me know so we can team up in a way that works best for you.
In subsequent sessions we’ll take on the events and experiences you bring into therapy. We will help you see how feelings and behaviors may be related and what we can do to help you change. Therapy works best when you make a commitment to attend sessions weekly and actively participate in the process. It’s important to consider what topics you want to bring to therapy sessions, as well as spend time thinking about what has been discussed.
Finally, progress in therapy is usually not (ok, almost never) linear. Some days you will feel great and clearly see the improvements you’re making. Other days you may feel stalled or have the sense of getting pulled into uncomfortable feelings. This is a natural process of gaining greater insight and getting closer to making significant life changes.
The length of therapy depends on your presenting concerns, your goals for therapy, and your willingness to engage with the process. It may help to view therapy as an investment in your wellbeing – so I encourage you to make a commitment to therapy and track your progress. I do recommend that you attend sessions weekly, at least at first, and stay fully engaged with the process. In my experience, when too much time elapses between sessions psychotherapy is not as effective.
Something to consider before you begin the process of therapy is your set of expectations. What do you hope to gain from psychotherapy? Some clients hope to attend several sessions of therapy to reduce anxiety, others want to engage in deep, transformative work which takes time. Others may use therapy as an ongoing maintenance tool. Thinking about your expectations for therapy and discussing them openly with me can help you to experience better outcomes.
Thank you for being open and honest with yourself and with me about this! Therapy has helped countless people transform their lives – and it can help you. Of course it’s also true that there are no guarantees in this life. We may try something new and not see results initially. It can help to make a time commitment to this process – after all it takes time to shift your current behaviors and create new habits.
You may also want to explore what changing means to you; what are the pros and cons of making a change right now? Asking for help and making changes is a difficult transition to go through. Yet, nothing changes until we change. What could that mean for you and your life right now? In a year? In five years?