What to Expect When Going to Therapy

What to Expect When Going to Therapy

One of the first questions potential clients ask on initial phone calls is “What can I expect from therapy?”.  Most people who come in for their first appointments are nervous.  They don’t know what to expect from the first session or the duration of treatment.  They often ask questions such as “How long will it take”, “What will happen during session” and “How will I know it’s time to stop therapy”.

 We’ve gathered our team of therapy and counseling experts to share what you can expect from attending therapy.

# 1 Amanda Landry, LMHC, CAP, NCC

One of the main things I tell people during the first session is the therapeutic process is fluid and it is dependent on the specific client.  I let them know that some people come to therapy for 6-8 sessions and work on a specific issue and stop.  Other clients are looking for long-term support and see me at varying levels of frequency for several years.  Treatment, the course of it and what will happen in therapy will depend on your specific needs.  

Some basic expectations you can have is that your therapy will be confidential (except in some specific cases), finances will be discussed and all policies for the office will be reviewed.  This should be reviewed during the first session.  During the first session, the therapist will ask you a lot of questions.  I take a lot of notes during the first session so keep track of everything discussed.  The first session will generally not include any “therapy” but gather a thorough assessment of what brought you in to therapy. 

Therapy sessions are generally between 45-50 minutes and occur once a week or every other week in the beginning of treatment.  Many of my clients come in once a week for a period of time and then begin to taper down once they see a reduction in symptoms.  As their therapist, I discuss their progress on a regular basis and make adjustments to treatment, as necessary.

As for what happens in therapy, the most important aspect of counseling is the therapeutic relationship you develop with your therapist.  There are a lot of therapeutic techniques, to name a few, are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, EMDR, Emotionally Focused Couples Counseling, Gottman Therapy, Psychoanalysis and Family Systems.  The specific type of treatment or mix of treatment will depend on your needs.  If you feel a healthy connection with your counselor, you are probably on the right track.

You can and should expect to feel better by going to therapy.  Your therapist may make some recommendations on things you can do outside of therapy to reduce symptoms, including seeing a medical professional, completing homework assignments and engaging in self-care activities.  In the end, what you put into therapy and your mental health is often what you are going to get out of it.  If you attend therapy, follow your therapist’s recommendations and do some work outside of sessions, you can expect to feel better.  And our hope, as your therapist, is that you do indeed get better.  

Amanda Landry, LMHC, CAP decided to become a therapist while attending Nova Southeastern University. She saw the need to help people achieve the life they wanted to live, while creating a life of her own. She completed her master’s in Mental Health Counseling and started a career in the juvenile justice arena. Since then, she has started a private practice in Pembroke Pines, Florida, specializing in depression, anxiety relationship issues, and substance abuse. Amanda is a believer in holistic treatment and she practices veganism, meditation and yoga in her life. Find out more about her practice here. For a free 15-minute consultation, call or text Amanda at 954-378-5381 or email her at amanda@amandapattersonlmhc.com.

# 2 Anthony Naguiat, LMHC, MCAP

I’m a firm believer that anyone can benefit from going to therapy, and I’m not just saying that because I AM a therapist.  Going to therapy can be helpful before situations occur, or before they seem to get out of hand.  Talking to someone professionally on a regular basis is also good self-care and doesn’t mean something is wrong with you.

So, what is a session with a therapist like?  Well, I suppose I should first clarify what doesn’t usually happen in a productive session.  While there are different views and models of therapy, many of us are not here to give you advice or tell you what to do.  Why? Well, you are the expert of your own life, and we’re just there to guide you.

What we CAN do is help you create measurable goals related to what you want to see change or improve.  In your sessions, we’ll support you in exploring and working through your concerns, while also helping you identify and develop strengths, resources, and coping skills.  If you’re there for more specialized concerns such as trauma, relationship/couples counseling, substance abuse, autism spectrum disorders, etc., of course we’ll also help educate you on navigating those issues in a safe environment.

What are the benefits of going to therapy?  When you first start seeing a therapist, they should discuss the benefits and risks. There aren’t any guarantees, and sometimes you’ll need to find someone who’s the best fit, but the benefits usually outweigh the negatives.  If you attend on a regular basis (whether that’s weekly, biweekly, etc.), you’ll likely find yourself feeling better, more confident in handling your concerns/stressors, and at some point, strong enough to “fire” us or just check in for periodic sessions.  That’s not to say it’s easy…therapy requires dedication and hard work, but the more you put in, the more results you’ll likely see.

Whether you’ve tried therapy before and didn’t see any results, or have been hesitant to go, consider giving it another shot. Sometimes that next attempt can make all the difference.

Wishing you all the best when you are ready to begin the process!  If you’re ready to try and are in the Boca Raton / South Palm Beach / North Broward areas, give me a call!

Anthony is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and Master’s Certified Addictions Professional (MCAP) in the state of Florida with over 10 years in the field.  In addition to being EMDR-Trained, he is also a Qualified Supervisor for Registered Mental Health Counselor Interns and is currently in private practice in Boca Raton, FL.  

Anthony is passionate about working with Adults and Teens who want to overcome grief/loss, substance use, effects of trauma or abuse, anxiety/worries, relationship issues, and self-harm. He is also strongly invested in working with clients who are in the LGBTQ+ community.

His approach to therapy is brief, positively focused, and solution-oriented.  Anthony utilizes EMDR, Dialectical (DBT) and Cognitive-Behavioral (CBT) to help clients improve their ability to regulate emotions, as well as manage stress and crises.

Anthony is a Board Member of the FL Southeast Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

For more information, please visit www.NaguiatLMHC.com or call (561) 289-2810 for a free brief consultation.  Also check out www.facebook.com/naguiatlmhc.

# 3 Melissa Kornhaus, LMHC

First, your therapist will have you sign paperwork and explain generally how therapy works and what you might expect as well as important information about confidentiality, payment, and cancellation policies.

You can then expect to be asked a bunch of questions about your medical history, your family, your past experiences, and what brings you in to therapy as part of an informal intake assessment. Some therapists may have additional questionnaires or assessments they ask you to complete, and these will help them in providing effective therapy.

After your first appointment or two, your therapist will have a solid understanding of who you are, your struggles and what might have contributed to them and how they plan to help you.

You’ll talk about some goals for therapy. Maybe you want to be able to exercise at least three times a week, have less fights with your husband or be able to work without crying about your grandmother’s death. Therapy can be used to treat a range of difficulties from chronic pain to grief, relationship issues and of course depression or other mental health concerns.

Once you’ve set some goals, you and your therapist direct the process together through a natural flow of discussion about the past, present, and future. Your therapist will generally be responsible for keeping their therapy aligned with your goals and checking-in on your progress regularly. Keep in mind that it’s important to tell your therapist if you aren’t happy with your progress or disagree with something he/she said!

Your therapist may regularly share knowledge, experience, and current research with you. If you want to work through the past, you’re able to do so in therapy. If you’re looking to work only on what’s happening in your life right now, there’s a therapist for you!

Some therapists may focus on guiding you to become aware of why you do the things you do…then you have options. You can begin to consciously make the choices you want instead of helplessly repeating the same mistakes.

While you (or your child) may gain understanding of yourself and learn concrete knowledge and skills in therapy, research consistently shows the most powerful part is in building the therapeutic relationship.

To really benefit from therapy, you must have a solid foundation: you need to feel connected and understood by your therapist.

From there you can have new hope as you’re guided by a trained professional and you no longer feel alone.

Working with a therapist helps you to talk through whatever is bothering you and look at it with a new view. Your perception of yourself, your relationships and what you really want can shift.

This is POWERFUL: Perceptions change thoughts. Thoughts change feelings. Feelings change actions.

These changes propel you towards achieving a more fulfilled, happier life.

As trained psychotherapists we each have major theories (attachment theory, family systems theory, psychodynamic theory, etc.) we tend to stick to when conceptualizing what’s happening with you and the approach we might take to help. From there, the way we interact with you in the office, skills we teach or areas on which we focus will emerge from a blend of your therapist’s training and treatment preferences (for example, they may teach mindfulness or assign you “homework” or use EMDR in the office to process upsetting memories) and your goals for therapy.

A graduate of Nova Southeastern University and with a background in neuroscience, Melissa Kornhaus is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with a private practice called NewVu (“new view”) Therapy, in East Delray Beach. She specializes in working with children and adults, particularly professionals and entrepreneurs. Her clients enjoy freedom from worry and the creation of healthy, lasting relationships as they achieve personal fulfillment through their work with her. Melissa’s unique and diverse background includes expressive therapies for developmental disorders, expert testimony for complex forensic cases, and EMDR in confronting childhood trauma.

Melissa’s work reflects her belief that with freedom from the mind and mastery of emotions comes the responsibility to act in alignment with one’s true purpose.

“There are no rules; Anything is possible.” –Melissa Kornhaus, LMHC

#4 Josimar Saldana Ph.D

¿Qué puedo esperar en una sesión de psicoterapia?

Todos nos hemos sentido tristes, abrumados, angustiados, desesperanzados y hasta derrotados frente a algunos problemas.  

Por diferentes razones hacemos lo posible por tolerar, enmascarar o ignorar estos sentimientos. Sin embargo, cuando nuestros problemas comienzan a afectar nuestro estado de ánimo a largo plazo y esto a su vez afecta áreas importantes de nuestra vida, como nuestras relaciones personales, desempeño laboral o académico o nuestra habilidad para tomar decisiones, es momento de buscar ayuda.

La psicoterapia es la mejor alternativa cuando deseamos concentrar nuestros esfuerzos en identificar posibles soluciones a nuestros problemas.  La psicoterapia ha demostrado ser efectiva  aliviando los síntomas de depresión y ansiedad y otros problemas emocionales (Winkler, Caceres, Fernandez, & Sanhuerza, 1989; Bados, Garcia, Fuste, 2002; Echeburua, De Corral, Salaberria, 2010).  

La psicoterapia es un proceso colaborativo que se fundamenta en el dialogo abierto y la confianza. Por lo general, la psicoterapia se lleva a cabo en un ambiente privado donde el terapista le escucha atentamente y sin emitir juicios ofrece una opinión objetiva, neutral e imparcial sobre la situación con el propósito de expandir nuestra perspectiva del problema. Es cuando logramos comprender e interpretar la situación desde otro punto de vista cuando comenzamos a contemplar soluciones no consideradas anteriormente.

Cuando participamos en psicoterapia encontramos el espacio para expresar nuestros pensamientos y emociones libremente, sin ser juzgados o criticados. El proceso catártico de expresar nuestras emociones resulta en sí mismo terapéutico. Sin embargo, a diferencia de hablar sobre nuestros problemas con amistades o familiares, en psicoterapia el terapista no solo nos ofrece apoyo emocional y atención plena, sino que su atención también se dirige a conceptualizar el problema desde un marco teórico científico que explica la conducta humana. El terapista ha recibido años de entrenamiento para identificar errores de pensamiento y dirigir la conversación hacia lograr una mayor introspección o auto-conocimiento.  Estas teorías ofrecen una guía para abordar el problema y desarrollar un plan individualizado de tratamiento de manera colaborativa donde se establecen metas y objetivos específicos. La psicoterapia es un proceso estructurado pero al mismo tiempo dinámico, ya que en el transcurso usted tendrá la oportunidad de revisar su progreso y expectativas según se trabaja en las metas trazadas.  

Durante la terapia adquirimos nuevas herramientas para manejar nuestros problemas y los retos del diario vivir. La meta del terapeuta es lograr que usted adquiera nuevas habilidades que le serán útiles en el día a día. Es por esto que sus beneficios tienen el potencial de perdurar a través del tiempo ya que estas herramientas se convierten en recursos internos que utilizamos frente a los problemas o situaciones que se puedan presentar en el futuro, al mismo tiempo que cultivamos una salud mental óptima prestándole la atención necesaria a nuestras necesidades emocionales.  

Aunque los estudios comprueben la efectividad de la psicoterapia, sus resultados no son posible sin su compromiso y disposición a llevar a cabo cambios en su vida. Asistir a sus citas programadas y reflexionar sobre el proceso antes, durante y después de cada cita contribuye a su progreso y recuperación. Durante la psicoterapia es normal experimentar una variedad de emociones que pueden ser intensas. Cuando esto sucede, puede ser una señal positiva que indica que estamos comenzando a explorar a profundidad experiencias, pensamientos, emociones y conductas que no habían sido analizadas o procesadas y pueden ser en parte la raíz de nuestros problemas. En esta etapa de descubrimiento se inician los cambios y comenzamos a experimentar gradualmente un alivio. Es importante discutir con el terapista cualquier sentimiento de aprensión que nos limita a seguir adelante. El ser abiertos y sinceros al expresar nuestras preocupaciones es crucial si deseamos que el proceso sea uno trasformador.  

Josimar Saldaña, Ph.D. es psicóloga clínica licenciada en Florida con 10 años de experiencia en el campo de salud mental. Se graduó del programa doctoral acreditado por la Asociación América de Psicología de la Universidad Carlos Albizu en San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Como madre, esposa e hija comprende las demandas y dificultades de nuestros tiempos y por tanto promueve el cuidado físico, emocional y espiritual para vivir una vida plena, saludable y feliz. La Dra. Saldaña es la fundadora de Psychways LLC donde ofrece servicios psicológicos que incluyen psicoterapia individual y evaluaciones. Para más información, llame al (954) 656-3604 o visite su página www.psychways.net

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