How To Get Started In Therapy

Published on September 2nd, 2015

Updated on January 2nd, 2024

How To Get Started In Therapy

Over recent years, the impression of what therapy is and how it can help a person has changed drastically. In the past, therapy has been seen as taboo or something that was intended only for wealthy people or people with severe mental illness.

As time has progressed and awareness about mental health has grown, the reputation of therapy has changed from a luxury or point of shame to a preferred method of self-care. There are currently a variety of types of therapy that work in treating different mental health disorders or issues. 

Other forms of talk therapy include:

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Example: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is often used in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and other conditions.

When looking for a therapist, it is important to learn about some of the current types of therapy approaches. Many will work well for different conditions, but you may prefer one technique over another. 

Therapists specialize in specific forms of therapy. Knowing about the types of talk therapy can help with finding the right fit for a therapist.

Choosing A Therapist

How To Get Started

You are considering therapy or you’ve decided to begin. This is a powerful step toward improving your life! There are many considerations when initiating therapy, especially if you are new to the process. 

First, anyone with or without a mental health diagnosis can benefit from therapy. Why? Having someone there to listen to your thoughts and feelings without judgment can promote healing. In some cases, a therapist is the only trusted person in a person’s life who can empathize with their experience.

Sometimes, a person seeking therapy needs support for a mental health condition or a major life transition. Common reasons for seeking therapy include:

What kind of therapy do you need? Are you looking for individual, couples, family, group, or addiction counseling? Therapists may specialize in a specific area or work with a range of mental health concerns. 

Keep in mind that therapists work in a variety of settings, so private practice may not be your only option. You may also find a provider in:

What type of therapist should I choose? The answer to this question depends on your needs and preferences. Here is a list of common types of credentials for mental health professionals:

Some certifications qualify practitioners to deliver specific interventions. When you speak to potential therapists, ask about additional training and certifications they may have.  

Therapy Session

How To Choose A Therapist

Now, you are ready to choose a therapist. Be patient with this process. Finding a therapist with whom you feel comfortable is perhaps the most important step in establishing a therapeutic process. 

Take A Moment To Consider Your Needs

Do you want to address self-confidence, a troubled relationship, depression, or a life challenge? These are intimate concerns to be shared with a trusted professional. You may want to consult with several therapists before choosing who to work with. Some therapists offer an initial consultation at no charge. During the consultation, review your needs and ask questions to see if it is a good fit. If you are uncomfortable, continue your search.

Beyond the relationship with the therapist, you may want to consider the following:

The First Appointment

Once you have gathered the necessary information, you are ready for your first appointment. Tasks included in the first session are usually reviewing confidentiality, completing an intake, building a rapport with your therapist, and discussing your goals. 

Your therapist should offer to answer any questions you have. You may even, if time allows, begin setting up your treatment plan. 

Note: If you are seeking couples or family counseling, the first session will likely be similar. Each of you should have the opportunity to share your expectations for beginning therapy.

If you are beginning group therapy, the therapist should review the purpose, structure, and limits of your particular group. They will also review the structure of confidentiality in a group setting.

You are well on your way to establishing a beneficial therapeutic relationship! If at any point you are dissatisfied with your treatment or progress, ask questions. After all, therapy is a mutual partnership to support and meet your needs. If you feel after a few sessions that the therapist you are working with is not a good fit, that’s okay! You may ask them for a referral or seek guidance from your primary doctor or psychiatrist. 

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