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  • Writer's pictureAndie Chilson, LGPC

Therapy Q&A

In honor of Mental Health Awareness month, we wanted to talk about the therapy process - what should you expect? Is it worth your time? Why? Taking that first step to reach out to a mental health provider for support is huge. But there may be questions that you’re afraid to ask. We’ve gathered some of the most common questions and concerns people have about therapy and answered them below.

It feels weird to pay someone to talk to about my fears and deep inner thoughts. How do I know my therapist genuinely cares about me and this isn’t just a transactional relationship?

The therapeutic relationship is unique because while it is still a professional relationship, it is also deeply personal. It is totally normal and acceptable to take some time to get comfortable with your therapist. We don’t expect you to come into your first session ready to share your deepest darkest secrets. If you’re feeling weird or nervous about sharing something vulnerable with your therapist - tell them! They won’t be offended. It may actually offer an opportunity for your therapist to normalize this fear and take the pressure off you.

Why would I pay to talk to a therapist when I could just talk to my friends/family and get the same thing for free?

Leaning on our friends and family for support when we’re going through it is essential. And while at face value talking to a friend and talking to a therapist may look similar, there are important distinctions between the two. While a close friend or family member can offer advice and support, it is difficult for them to be objective. One of the most important components of therapy is the objectivity of the therapist. We are able to serve as an objective sounding board and offer a perspective that someone close to you may not be able to provide. Therapists also go through years of training to learn how to effectively and safely support clients through mental health challenges that may appear on the surface as “just talking.” If you want to learn a little bit more about your therapist’s background and training, ask them!

I don’t believe therapy will actually work.

One of the most important components of successful therapy is willingness or, at minimum, open mindedness to the process. If you believe therapy won’t work for you, you’ll probably prove yourself right. Timing is important. If you’re not in the right headspace, consider getting curious about what’s keeping you from opening your mind to counseling, and don’t hesitate to name these concerns to any professional you’re considering working with.

Is my therapist judging me?

This is such a common (and completely normal!) concern to have as a prospective client. You show up each week and lay it all out on the table - good, bad, and ugly. As therapists, we recognize the strength it takes to trust another human with your messiest parts, and we are honored each and every time our clients place that trust in us. We also recognize that therapy is a unique context - you typically don’t seek counseling to talk about how fantastic you’re doing in every area of your life. We understand that you’re seeking support with the things in life that are challenging. More often than not, we resonate deeply with the “unflattering” things clients share with us. Therapists are humans, too, and we’re far from perfect.

How often should I be coming to therapy?

Clients typically come on a weekly basis, but there is no one-size-fits-all for how often you should schedule your sessions. For clients who are mainly seeking counseling for maintenance, bi-weekly can sometimes be appropriate. You may also find that there are certain periods of your life in which you need weekly check-ins, and other times when you’re able to come on a less frequent basis.

What if I can’t afford therapy?

While we believe therapy is an investment that can pay dividends down the line, we also recognize that there are some very real financial barriers for many individuals. Many therapists offer a sliding scale that can meet clients where they are financially. Even if they don’t advertise it on their website, it never hurts to ask a prospective therapist if a sliding scale is something they are open to. There are also services available like Open Path that provide quality mental health care to individuals who cannot afford to pay the typical rate.

We hope this article was helpful in taking some of the mystery out of the therapy process. If you have any other questions you’d like to ask, drop us a comment below and we’ll keep the conversation going!



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