Whether you consider yourself a therapy novice or a seasoned veteran, starting therapy can feel overwhelming. You may have many questions about what therapy involves. This article will give you a sense of what you’ll experience in therapy at Tava.
When you’re just starting out, you and your therapist will spend some time getting to know each other. You’ll probably talk about each other’s background, history and personality. Your therapist will likely ask you a lot of questions related to your life situation and what prompted you to try therapy.
The relationship that you build with your therapist will be an extremely important aspect of your therapeutic experience. You may find, however, that this relationship differs greatly from other relationships in your life.
You may have trusted friends or loved ones with whom you talk about life challenges. While your therapist can also provide a great listening ear, they will do much more than that. They are specially trained to help you discover insights related to your emotions and behaviors. They can provide an objective, unbiased perspective on the things you talk about, and help you develop skills that will help you improve relationships, manage stress, and have more self compassion. Your sessions with your therapist are a rare judgement-free zone where you can discuss your challenges with someone who is unconditionally dedicated to your success.
You may also find that your relationship is strangely one-sided. While your therapist will share some things about themselves, they will be very careful to keep your sessions focused on you. This may feel awkward at first, but don’t worry! It’s a very purposeful part of the process that will help make sure you realize progress toward your goals.
After getting to know you, your therapist will likely ask you what you hope to accomplish with therapy. The outcomes you discuss and the approaches you might take to get there are unique to every person and situation.
You may discuss things in general terms, like: “If you could wake up tomorrow and your problems were gone, what would your world look like?” or “What in your life would you like more of? Less of?” Such an approach may seem too vague or broad, but talking through your response can help unearth obstacles to your wellness. Such discoveries can be extremely helpful in improving your mood and well-being.
On the other hand, you may have a very specific need that you’d like to address in therapy. Many people come to talk about difficulty with a family or romantic relationship or heightened levels of stress and anxiety. You may be discouraged with low self-esteem or addiction. And in some cases, you just feel down and don’t know why. Whatever the reason is, you and your therapist together can discuss steps and milestones that will help you get back to your best self.
This may seem like an obvious question. If you came to improve your relationship with your daughter, you may just watch for when that relationship improves! Sometimes your progress can be that straightforward, but in other cases it’s a little more nuanced.
In general you and your therapist can make some qualitative observations together. You may notice that you feel less distressed by the situations that initially brought you to therapy. You may also notice progress toward smaller goals, like improving your ability to communicate, resolve conflict, exercise self compassion or maintain healthy boundaries.
In many cases, you may not even notice the progress you’re making! Your therapist can provide a helpful outside perspective through the process, and will definitely help you recognize your improvement over time.
At Tava, you’ll also fill out surveys prior to each session to give you and your therapist a quantitative view of your progress. These surveys ask questions related to your mood and stress levels. One way you can measure progress is by watching how your responses to the surveys have changed over time.
Your therapist will be careful to not lean too heavily on the survey in measuring success — you’re not getting graded, after all. Perhaps most importantly, the survey provides you with a valuable moment of reflection on changes in your life, and provides your therapist with a frame of reference as you start each session.
This is the million dollar question! Many people see improvements early on in their experience with therapy. Often you and your therapists will come up with simple tactics that, if employed correctly in your life, can make a huge impact. As you set goals with your therapist, you may determine target timelines for improvements, which can give you milestones to anticipate.
What you’re hoping to resolve will also significantly influence the answer to this question. Mental health can be complicated and nuanced. There may be multiple layers to peel back before bona fide healing can take place. You may find that deep seated or long standing issues can take a little longer to fully resolve, but hang in there! Your wellness is worth it!
It’s also good to keep in mind that in therapy, as in many things, you get out of it what you put into it. Often the level and speed of your improvement will be related to the effort you dedicate to the process. Much of your therapy happens outside of your 50 minute session. Your therapist may suggest you try practicing a new skill or doing an exercise like mindfulness or journaling. Consider giving these suggestions an honest try — you may be surprised at the good they can do.
Therapy is work. Sometimes, it’s really hard work. Very likely, there will be times you want to quit (It may even be after your first session!). You may feel overwhelmed by the strong emotions and even discomfort that therapy can bring — especially early on. Don’t be discouraged. These feelings are like growing pains, a natural part of the healing process. Though you may not like it, that discomfort is often a signal that therapy is working.
Those around you may also notice changes in you. Often these are very positive, but sometimes others in your life may need some time to adjust to the new you, particularly if you’re working on things like communication and maintaining boundaries.
As always, discuss any big changes in mood or behavior with your therapist. They can help give you tools and support in managing heightened stress or relationship struggles. They may also help you to simplify as needed. Sometimes getting too focused on objectives and outcomes can overwhelm us. You may feel at those times that all you can do is show up, which, as your therapist will probably assure you, will be enough.
If you’re feeling unsure as you consider therapy, we are here to help! You can always reach out to us at email@example.com, or chat with us online at care.tavahealth.com. Studies have shown that therapy consistently changes people’s lives for the better, regardless of their background or life situation. We trust that your Tava Health experience will be a life-changing way to help you get back to feeling like you!