One question you might be asked by your therapist when you enter into a therapeutic relationship is if you’ve been in counselling or therapy before. Why is this something that is being asked and what do you need to know if it is the first time you enter the therapy room?

Why do therapists need to know?

Therapists might need to explain a bit more if a client is entering the counselling relationship for the first time. The following issues will need to be discussed anyway:

  • What brings you into therapy
  • What you want to get out of this process
  • Confidentiality and how you can expect your info to be treated
  • When confidentiality might need to be broken by the therapist
  • Any questions you might have
  • Payment and how this will be arranged. Also any cancellation policy that might be in place.

If you’ve been in therapy before, this process might be more brief as this will be something you have done at least once before.

What if I am entering therapy for the first time?

I find that people who have entered into counselling before are more aware of what the process involves. It might take a few sessions to fully understand what therapy usually entails. For example, emotions might feel stronger or more upsetting than how we usually experience them. Of course, this is largely a part of how you experience life and it differs from person to person. On the opposite end, it might feel like nothing much is happening and you are just there exploring what seems like obvious to you.

Please know that all these are natural and what is necessary is some time to let what is happening sit in.

As life problems or similar issues might have driven you to therapy in the first place, confronting them might feel intimidating or upsetting or even irritating. Emotions are a large part of this process. Being able to experience them and discuss them will be beneficial for you in the long term.

What should I know about how different modalities work?

The most common form of therapy nowadays with NHS and all seems to be CBT. CBT stands for cognitive-behavioural therapy. This kind of therapy stays largely in the cognitive processes and might require some extra journalling from you. It tends to help in a quick and contained way but usually superficially if used by itself. It is similar to a plaster that is applied on a wound. If the wound is deep and needs something more, the plaster might not be the best way to treat it.

Psychodynamic approaches seem to be interested quite a lot in the ‘why’. Why do we have the issues we have now? How do these stem from our childhood and past experiences?

Humanistic approaches like Rogerian, Jungian or Gestalt therapies, have evolved into more relational models of therapy. The relationship between therapist and client is seen as the factor that brings healing over time.

Specifically, according to Gestalt therapy that I am practicing, the lack of presence, meaning and contact are seen as the elements that create problems in our lives. Due to our survival tactics, we learn how to avoid making authentic contact and it is a whole life’s work to understand the multitude of resistances we have created in ourselves to avoid being hurt. Bit by bit, we start by accepting what our current reality is and other options in life start becoming available as we proceed.

Integrative approaches try to apply a more holistic view of therapy by joining the strengths of more than one models of psychotherapy.

Creative therapies like dramatherapy and art-therapy can be particularly beneficial for therapy as they allow people to reconnect with their creative selves and approach difficult issues by the use of creative media.

So, do you have any questions that I can help you by blogging on a specific issue?

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2 thoughts on “ First Time in Therapy – What to know ”

  1. It’s really comforting to know that therapy services will help you become more aware of your emotions and how to deal with them. My cousin was diagnosed with depression and is planning on taking therapy soon. I hope that he feels calmer eventually and that he will be able to adapt to the process.

  2. Thank you Tammie for your comment and good luck to the journey that your cousin will embark on.

    Depression has many causes. I particularly like the theories that say that people who are depressed have been trying too long to stay strong and have “lost” the connection with their more vulnerable parts – or as Gestalt sees it, some emotions like grief or sadness have been left unattended thus forming unfinished business or other emotions like anger have turned against oneself instead of being utilised as what Gestalt sees as healthy agression.

    I think your comment gives me the inspiration for a new post. Thank you again Tammie for taking the time to write and your inspirational comment.

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