Beginning work with even the most competent therapist can be anxiety producing for any client. Often clients who are new to the therapeutic process ask, "What should I expect from working with a therapist?" Therapists know that new clients are usually nervous when they walk through their office door for the first time. If you are considering seeing a therapist, there are a few things to keep in mind that will hep the process go more smoothly for you and help you feel like you have some level of control of your therapeutic work. Remember, your therapist wants to have a good working relationship with you and wants you to get the most out of your work together. So, don't be afraid to use your voice with your therapist.
TELL YOUR THERAPIST WHAT WORKS AND HAS WORKED FOR YOU
Each person, couple, and family is unique. You can help your therapist by indicating which styles and questions he or she uses will work best for you. That does not mean that you run the therapy. The therapist does have some expertise and good reasons for doing what he or she is doing, but a good therapist also has room for flexibility. If you have been in counseling before and found some aspect or method particularly helpful, let your therapist know about that.
LET YOUR THERAPIST KNOW WHEN HE OR SHE DOES SOMETHING RIGHT
Therapy can be a difficult and challenging field of work. Your therapist sees people when they are at their most stressed and sometimes their most impatient. Sometimes the therapist doesn’t know whether he or she has been helpful, because people don’t return or because change takes time. So, most therapists appreciate hearing that they have done something that worked or was helpful. This can also make your therapy experience more productive, since your therapist will have your feedback to guide him or her in future attempts to help you.
TELL YOUR THERAPIST YOUR EXPECTATIONS
If you attend therapy expecting to go back to your childhood to find the roots of the problem and your therapist focuses on the present, you are bound to be frustrated. That expectation needs to be brought up and discussed before you proceed. Also, you might indicate how long and how often you anticipate you will attend therapy to make sure you and the therapist are on the same track.
TELL YOUR THERAPIST WHAT DOESN’T WORK
Like telling your therapist your expectations and letting him or her know what has worked or is helping, letting your therapist know when something isn’t helping is important. This includes what is happening at home as well as during your therapy sessions. This gives the opportunity for midcourse corrections in the therapy process.
TELL YOUR THERAPIST YOUR OBJECTIONS
Some people think that they shouldn’t speak up about their worries or objections to their therapist’s suggestions, but a free and frank discussion about any misgiving helps your therapist deal with your concerns and make any adjustments to ensure a higher likelihood of success.
Ask about the therapy process, fees, any suggestions or methods, the therapist’s training and qualifications, or anything else you are curious about. If the subject gets too personal or the therapist considers the questions intrusive or inappropriate, he or she will let you know.
REQUEST THAT YOUR THERAPIST SPEAK IN EVERYDAY LANGUAGE
All professions have jargon and buzzwords. If your therapist suggests “an MMPI to check out whether you have MPD or ADHD,” you have a perfect right to have a translation in language you understand.
If you are contemplating working with a mental health counselor or therapist, give us a call at Olive Branch Family Therapy, PLLC at (919) 428-7746. At our practice, we want our clients to be healthy, happy and successful in all aspects of life. We're here to listen to you and want you to get everything you need out of therapy.
Blog Author: James L. Machado Workman is a License Marriage & Family Therapist and Board Certified Chaplain.