I’ve never talked to anyone. I’m used to handling things on my own. Aren’t people who go to therapy weak?
Not at all. People who ask for help know when they need it and have the courage to reach out. Everyone needs help now and then. In our work together, we will help you explore and identify your strengths and how to implement them to reduce the influence of the problems you are facing.
What’s the difference between talking to you or my best friend or family?
The difference is a therapist has no ownership or possession in the situations and can be totally neutral, approaching the situations without bias. The difference between someone who can do something, and someone who has the training and experience to do that same thing professionally. A mental health professional can help you approach your situation in a new way– teach you new skills, gain different perspectives, listen to you without judgment or expectations, and help you listen to yourself. Furthermore, counseling is completely confidential. You won’t have to worry about others “knowing my business.” Lastly, if your situation provokes a great deal of negative emotion, and you’ve been confiding in a friend or family member, there is the risk that once you are feeling better you could start avoiding that person so you aren’t reminded of this difficult time in your life.
Why shouldn’t I just take medication?
Medication can be effective but it alone cannot solve all issues. Sometimes medication is needed in conjunction with counseling. Our work together is designed to explore and unpack the problems you are experiencing and expand on your strengths that can help you accomplish your personal goals.
How does it work? What do I have to do in sessions?
Because each person has different goals for counseling, it will be different depending on the individual. We tailor the therapeutic approach to your specific needs. Gentle conversations with the goal of self-awareness can be one type of session. There will be questions and answers between you and the counselor. Sometimes if you request or want to participate there can be reading, journaling, or even learning new skills like breathwork. Each individual will help the counselor to map out the best way to meet your goals.
How long will it take?
Each person and their unique situation sets the pace for therapy. You are in charge of your therapy and we will work with you until you feel you have reached your goals. It is not possible to say in a general FAQs page the appropriate amount of time each individual will need for their journey but there will be a day you will decide you are ready to grow beyond the therapeutic relationship and we will celebrate that moment for you. Everyone’s circumstances are unique to them and the length of time counseling can take to allow you to accomplish your goals depends on your factors that are motivating you.
I want to get the most out of therapy. What can I do to help?
We are so glad you are dedicated to getting the most out of your sessions. Your active participation and dedication will be crucial to your success. When you show up and help to build the therapeutic trust relationship where you feel comfortable being honest you have done the most to help.
What is a consultation with a therapist?
A consultation is a short meeting with a therapist to determine if you are a good fit for one another. Think of this as a test drive to see what it would be like to work with this therapist. These consultations are very informal, and no therapy/treatment happens during this meeting – it’s a chance for us to get to know each other. One of the most important aspects of the consult – and what we highly encourage – is the opportunity to ask the therapist any questions you may have! You are interviewing the therapist to see if they are a good fit for you, and any questions you may have are welcome.
Why should you have a free consultation?
Five reasons to take advantage of your free consult.
- Some therapists specialize in something different. Like any other healthcare provider, while therapists gain clinical experience, some specialize in particular focus areas. This means therapists you find may have one or more specific topics they are educated in and has experience working with. Some therapists do a great job conveying this on their marketing, and the free consult is an opportunity see what the therapist you’re meeting with is versed in.
- Meet and choose. Meet with as many therapists as you want so you can see how you feel. Our relationship with you is the most important part of our work together, so meeting with a few people to figure out how you feel is perfectly okay and highly encouraged.
- Ask questions. The free consult really serves as your interview before booking an appointment. Find out anything you want to know so that when you do have your first appointment, we can spend time focusing on you.
- Learn if we are a good fit. You may love a therapist’s bio, their website, their Instagram, etc, but you won’t fully know the vibes you get from them until you speak to them for the first time. Also, be sure that your schedule aligns with this therapist’s availability – if your schedules don’t match, you won’t be able to do your best work.
- No obligation, paperwork or financial investment. We don’t expect anything from you during the free consult, except that you’ll be interviewing us! There is no pressure to schedule, give us any personal information, etc.
Questions therapists might ask you
Although the free consult is mostly focused on you interviewing us, we’ll also ask you questions. Just like you want to make sure we are a good fit for you, we want to make sure you are a good fit for our expertise and specialties. If we aren’t versed in what you need, it’s our ethical duty to refer you to another professional. So, even if you meet with us for a free consult and aren’t able to schedule with us for any reason, we can assist you in finding the best match. We’re here to help and want to see you make progress in any way you can!
Here’s some basics we’ll ask you the first time we meet or talk:
- What brings you in?
- Have you been to therapy before?
- What are you looking for in a therapist?
- What’s worked for you in the past, and what has not?
- What do you want to get out of therapy?
Questions to ask a therapist in a consultation
- Can you tell me a little about your practice?
- What is your general philosophy/approach to helping?
- What is your experience working with clients with my background, culture, and/or experiences?
- Do you have experience working with clients who have similar concerns to me?
- What therapy approaches do you use, and how can it help me achieve my goals?
- How active are you during a session? Should I expect you to lead?
- How do you decide therapeutic goals and how do you decide when they are completed?
- What is a typical session like?
- Do you give homework? What kind of homework do you give clients?
- How do I prepare for my first session?
- How will I know I’m making progress?
- What are your fees?
- How often and for how long would you anticipate seeing me?
- Do you partner with other professionals like chiropractors, nutritionists, or psychiatrists?
- What is your availability in between sessions?
- What days and times are you available for sessions?
Questions to ask yourself
Throughout your session, keep track of your gut instincts and reactions. Follow them! Afterwards, ask yourself these questions to see how you feel and what you think about the therapists you’ve met with.
- Do I feel safe and comfortable with the therapist’s presence?
- Would I feel comfortable sharing more with this therapist? Do I feel like our bond would grow?
- Do I feel respected and heard?
- Do I think this therapist can really help me?
- Does this therapist use language that reflects an understanding of my background, culture, and experiences?
- Is the therapist available at the days and times I need to meet?
- Are they experienced in what I am looking for?
- Can I afford this therapist’s fees?
- Do I like their energy/vibe?
When your consult ends
You won’t be pressured to book at the time, but experience tells me booking now sets you up for success and prevents you from being in the same spot you’re in today six months from now. Chances are if you walk out without booking an appointment, it’s not going to happen. If you think and feel that this therapist is someone you can work with, book before you leave!
If you don’t want to move forward, be honest with yourself and the therapist. We appreciate your being direct! We respect your decision, and like I mentioned earlier, we want you to get the help you need so you can make the progress you want, and we understand it’s not always with us.
How do I know if a therapist is right for me?
There are a few things you might feel if the therapist is right for you: safety, competence, and a sense of connection.
- Safety — You feel like you can be yourself and honest. Your therapist has the capacity to create a judgment-free zone where you can freely express what you feel and think. Your therapist is able to meet you where you’re at in your life and help you to grow and heal without criticism or shame.
- Competence — Your mental health therapist has the skills, experience, and knowledge to assist you in your needs. Most therapists will have a master’s degree in therapy, counseling, psychology, or social work and will be licensed by the state, meaning they’ve gone through the necessary supervised experience and educational requirements to see clients on their own.
- Sense of connection — You enjoy talking with your counselor and have a good back and forth in your conversations. You also feel like your therapist supports you and cares for your wellbeing. Your therapist feels like a trusted ally and advisor, someone you look forward to seeing.
After you’ve done your research to find a therapist, you may go to your first session with your new therapist and it may not feel right. Here are some ideas to think about as you determine if your current mental health therapist is right for you.
- Give your therapist three tries. Usually, it takes at least three sessions before you start to understand how your therapist can impact your life. It is important to remember that when you meet people, first impressions are important and lasting. It’s the same with therapy — you’re getting to know each other. The first session can involve some housekeeping before you dive into your session. At first, it may feel awkward to be communicating with a therapist or revealing your thoughts, so give yourself time to get used to the experience.
- Listen to your gut. You may feel unsettled or that something is off when you’re in therapy. If that happens, don’t ignore that feeling. Listen to yourself and talk to your therapist about it. It could be that they aren’t the right fit. If that’s the case, let them know and try to explain what you’re feeling. If you’re feeling unheard or you feel like you’ve been shamed, definitely let your therapist know. Your therapist may be able to accommodate your needs. If your needs can’t be accommodated, you can part ways in a healthy and therapeutic way.
- Searching for a therapist can take some time. There are plenty of qualified and compassionate counselors and therapists that look forward to helping you. But it may take some time to find the right one. Give yourself time to search and explore. You can look at their websites or profiles on mental health sites, social media sites, and/or talk to them on the phone for a few minutes to help you in your decision.
How do I prepare for therapy or counseling sessions?
You usually don’t have to prepare for therapy. Simply come with an open mind and curiosity about yourself. But here are tips that can help you get the most out of your therapy experience.
- You may find it helpful to journal about your thoughts and feelings before you come to therapy. Sometimes a journal can help guide your therapy sessions. Here are some journal prompts to get you started:
- Why do I want to go to therapy?
- How do I feel about where I am in my life?
- What goals do I want to accomplish?
- What’s been bothering me lately?
- Do I want to talk about a specific mental health problem?
- What do I love about my life?
- You may want to schedule some down time after therapy to process your session, especially if you’re discussing heavy or painful topics.
- If opening up about your feelings is a new experience for you, then before your first session, you may want to practice sharing your feelings out loud in private.