Understanding what not to expect from psychotherapy can help you approach treatment as an educated consumer. Here are a few things that you should know about psychotherapy before you start your first session.
A few misconceptions
Whether it’s the concern of a friend, spouse, or family member that’s the tipping point for someone to seek help, or an employer insisting that your mental health needs to be prioritized, there are various reasons someone would seek professional help.
Often, people are aware of how they’d like their relationships to improve, their mood to feel under control, or specific behaviors they’d like help with in changing. In these cases, people seek therapy to improve self-improvement, personal growth, and overall quality of life.
Regardless of how you arrive at the choice to try it out or the type of therapy you choose, you’ll start your session with some expectations, which may include a few common misconceptions about the process of psychotherapy.
You may also need more than one session. There’s a limited amount of problems for which a single session of psychotherapy will be all that’s needed. However, it can be a short-term treatment. Most of the time, though, it’s a long-term commitment.
The first few appointments are typically used for both you and your therapist to determine if and which kind of therapy can be helpful. You’ll be asked to discuss specific concerns that led you to seek professional help, as well as other aspects of your broader medical, social, and family history that will help the therapist get to know you better.
For some individuals, it’s understandably uncomfortable to openly discuss their symptoms, history, and experiences with a stranger. And for others, it can be powerfully relieving.
Regardless, it is doubtful that lasting, meaningful change or resolution for long-standing thought relating or behaving can be adequately resolved in a handful of appointments.
With that said, it’s reasonable to expect a structured, present-focused approach like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), interpersonal psychotherapy, or ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy) to be time-limited. On the other hand, psychodynamic psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, which focus on the exploration of unconscious desires and processes, are likely to require a more excellent time investment.
Psychotherapy is work. Therapy asks you to take a good look at yourself.
And while this may be uncomfortable at first, you won’t be alone in doing this. Your therapist will be alongside you and supporting you in this journey. You’ll work together to:
- Develop more awareness about precisely what is creating you a problem.
- Understand your current patterns and experiment with various ways of thinking, doing, relating, and coping.
Building therapeutic rapport. Along the way, there may be times where you may feel worse before you feel better. Discussing traumatic experiences, for example, may disrupt your sleep. Confronting how other people have treated you poorly or you have mistreated others can lead to
resentment, sadness, and anger.
Working with your therapist isn’t the same as talking to your friend or family member. The therapeutic relationship is different from any other relationship. It is not two-sided or a “two-way street.” You’ll likely share intimate details of yourself with your clinician, and they will not be responding in kind. This isn’t intended to be harsh, nor is it an indicator of your likability to the clinician.
Instead, your therapist sets boundaries around sharing personal information to keep the focus on you and your goals.
Finding the right fit for you
Call Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic today, and let their psychotherapy team gently guide you on your journey toward self-understanding and fulfillment. The clinic is now offering Telehealth to clients in Washington State, California, Texas, and Vermont!