Client Portal

A Note From a Therapist About Therapy

by | Apr 9, 2023


You have chosen to make an important investment in yourself and we are honored to be on this journey with you.  Whether you are new to therapy or have been in therapy before, here are a few things to keep in mind as you consider our time together.

A standard individual session is typically somewhere between 45-60 minutes, depending on the therapist and modality used.

Clinical studies show that both in-person and telehealth sessions are effective treatment mediums so, choose what works best for you.  Some people prefer to engage in a combination of both due to their schedules.

Open communication is a critical component of therapy.  Asking for what you need is a skill and the therapeutic space can be a powerful way to learn to flex that muscle in a safe and non-judgmental environment.  It is important that you honestly share with your therapist what works well for you and what doesn’t work for you.  Therapy should be a highly collaborative process.

Effective therapists are agile and able to adjust the treatment direction, tools, and techniques based on what you want to accomplish and what resonates with you.  There are thousands of various exercises, handouts, links, tools, and techniques to pull from to ensure you are getting what you need so, your voice is important in this process!

A strong, safe alliance between client and therapistis the essential component that makes therapy successful.  Be willing to lean in and embrace it.  A meta-analysis of 24 research studies on therapeutic alliance concluded that “the quality of the alliance was more predictive of positive outcome than the type of intervention used” (Ardito, R. B., & Rabellino, D, 2011). 

If you are just not feeling it with a particular therapist, check out #6 under “Closing out our time together” below.

Come prepared for your session so that you get what you need.  Here are some pro-tips to consider:

  • Take an intentional moment to prepare for your session.  This is a great time to do a short, informal, present-moment practice.  
    • Take notice of your five senses.
    • Take 5-10 deep breaths, focusing on the outbreath to release stress.
    • Scan your body from head to toe.  Just soften around any tension you feel.
    • Without judgment, just take notice of your thoughts as they come and go.
    • Grab a coffee, tea, or some other beverage and relax for a moment.
  • Between sessions, it can be helpful to jot down any goals, ideas, questions, insights, events, triggers, concerns, or successes to help guide what you might like to talk about in your next session.  Some people use their phone, an app, or a journal to keep track of their thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and mood throughout the week to help them decide what is most important to discuss. 
  • Feel free to bring in a note pad or journal if it will help you to remember any take-away ideas, intentions, or goals you have set for the upcoming week.  For most therapists, it is also perfectly fine to pull out your phone to make a note as well!
  • Make a commitment to yourself to practice what you have learned between sessions.  Your brain pays attention to and focuses on whatever you invest your time in during the day.  This is how it weeds through all the noise and decides what is truly important to us.  Make sure your personal growth and development is a part of that investment.
  • If you would like to learn a new tool, technique, or get additional information or feedback on something you are interested in, just ask!  The therapy session is a great place to learn, practice, fail, fail better, and make forward progress.  Even a bit of role-play or rehearsal for an upcoming event or a challenging conversation can be a great tool to incorporate into your session. 

Closing out our time together in therapy should be a natural, positive, and integral part of your healing and growth experience.  “Termination” may sound like a harsh or scary word to use in therapy, but it can actually be a very empowering time for a client.

So, how, when, and why do we begin to move towards termination in therapy?  The short answer is, “It depends on the situation.”  Unless you feel you are in emotional or physical danger, terminating abruptly is almost never the best solution.  

Here are a few reasons we might decide to slow down, pause, or terminate therapy.

  • “I am feeling sooo much better!”

Great!  Let’s discuss how we might start the closure process by extending the time period between sessions.  If you are weekly, you might move to bi-weekly sessions for a couple of weeks.  If that feels good, you might move to monthly sessions for a couple of months.  Or, you may talk with your therapist and decide that you have met all of your goals and are really ready to end your time in therapy, confident that you can always reach back out if something new pops up or if you feel you just need a “booster” session.  The point is to have this conversation so you and your therapist can celebrate the fact that you’re feeling better, review the progress you have made, and discuss how to maintain all the good work you have put into yourself.

  • “I’m just not feeling it.”  

The therapeutic alliance between clinician and client is the most powerful vehicle for change in therapy.  Not everyone clicks with everyone.  It’s perfectly ok to say, “I like talking with you, but I wonder if I might work better with someone who is _____ or who focuses on _____.”   

The truth is that a good therapist will never be offended or upset with this request.  Remember, it is our job to support you in your growth.  Being empowered to advocate for yourself and ask for what you need is integral part of this process.  We all need to know how to gracefully set boundaries, and sometimes even end relationships, in a way that is in line with our values.  Let’s talk about it and use this as good practice opportunity.  It is hard, but it is worth it! 

  • “I want to connect more with others who are in the same boat.”  

Maybe it is time to either add in a support group or transition to a support group exclusively.  Support groups can be a great space to hear others’ experiences, gain validation for your own experiences, and bounce off new ideas and insights with others who are going through a similar situation or have experienced a similar situation in the past.  Let’s talk about it.  This can be a great bridge to a successful termination of individual therapy.

  • “I am so busy right now; I just can’t find the time!” 

Remember that prioritizing yourself is the best thing you can do for you, your loved ones, your job, and all the other stuff you have to do.  When we don’t do this, we can become overwhelmed, less productive, and not as present to others or to the tasks at hand.  Let’s talk about how we can fit you into your own schedule in a way that makes the most sense.   

  • “I’m experiencing a money crunch.”  

It happens.  Life happens.  Just be open with your therapist about it.  We can see how we might be able to make it work so that you can have the support you need to continue with your progress.  

  • “This is not in my scope of practice.”  

Ok, this one is on the therapist.  A therapist may determine that you need something in particular that they don’t specialize in, and an ethical therapist will let you know as soon as possible if that is the case.  We will offer our thoughts, talk with you about options, and refer you to someone who has expertise in that particular area if that is what you need.

Whether you feel you have achieved all of your goals, or you are just ready for something new or different, we encourage you to schedule a final session before you go to review your progress and achievements, reinforce plans for maintaining good mental health practices, provide any feedback you would like to share with your therapist, or ask for any additional resources you might need going forward.  This will give you and your therapist the opportunity to close out the relationship in a healthy way.  

Remember, a good therapist should always support what is best for you.

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About Leigh | View Profile

Leigh is a psychotherapist who specializes in working with clients who experience a wide range of symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, and trauma.  She utilizes mindfulness-based and evidence-based treatments in her practice, including ACT, MBSR, DBT, CBT, and SFBT.

We offer in-person and virtual services – contact us today to learn more!

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