For many of us, psychotherapy is a real taboo. Even people who regularly attend meetings with a therapist are very often ashamed to talk about it. Where does our resistance to psychotherapy come from? Why is it worth choosing a session with a psychologist? What is the first meeting with a psychotherapist like and is it possible to prepare for it properly?
What is psychotherapy?
American movies and series are full of scenes in which the main characters sit comfortably on the couch at the psychotherapist’s, talking about their lives. For many of them, this is a time when they don’t have to pretend to be someone and can talk openly about their emotions, feelings and problems.
Although in Poland individual psychotherapy is usually associated with serious disorders such as strong anxiety, lack of motivation, depression or anorexia, in fact, talking to a psychotherapist can help each of us. Initial resistance to psychotherapy is natural. After all, talking about problems with a stranger is not easy. That is why, before the first visit to the therapist, it is worth finding out what the meeting looks like and what questions we can expect.
Read more: What is psychotherapy?
When is it worth going to psychotherapy?
Professional psychotherapy is intended for all those who need mental support. It will work well for people who are struggling with serious mental problems, as well as those in need of support. The sooner we start psychotherapy, the greater the chance that our problem will not develop.
Most often, psychotherapy is used by people who:
- suffer from anxiety and mood disorders;
- experience a lack of motivation and life satisfaction;
- cannot cope with the loss of a loved one;
- are in a difficult situation or have experienced traumatic experiences;
- feel lonely and complain of a lack of understanding.
A conversation with a psychotherapist is a time when the patient can talk to himself, seek an objective opinion of an outsider, and receive a lot of useful advice. Psychotherapy allows not only to deal with existing problems, but also gives strength and shapes the patient’s behavior.
The first meeting with a psychotherapist
The first visit to the therapist is a chance for the specialist to get acquainted with the patient and the problems he is struggling with. We don’t have to prepare ourselves before the meeting. However, it is worth being as open as possible during the individual psychotherapy session and not be embarrassed. Success depends largely on the cooperation of the patient with the psychologist.
Many people who have never used this kind of help think about how to talk to a psychotherapist before the first session. There is only one advice – you have to be open and not hide anything. The therapist is not our enemy, on the contrary, he wants to help us. That is why we should follow his instructions carefully and answer honestly any questions he asks.
Psychotherapy - questions to the patient
A good psychotherapist is able to make an initial diagnosis of the problem after just one conversation with the patient. The first psychotherapy session is usually the time when the psychologist mainly listens to the patient and asks him questions. He is most often interested in such issues as listed below.
- Why did the patient come to psychotherapy?
- What are his hopes for therapy?
- Why did he decide to see a therapist right now?
- Has the patient already participated in group or individual psychotherapy?
The therapist may also ask questions about our private life, as well as feelings and emotions. The course of the conversation is always adapted to the patient’s needs, so it cannot be predicted. The most important thing is to be honest and openly about problems, leaving no room for guesswork and overinterpretation.
Psychotherapy without secrets
The first visit does not have to be based solely on the psychotherapist’s questions. The patient can also be active and ask whatever he wants. Of course, this does not mean that the psychologist will be able to and be able to answer every question. The fact that during the session we talk about our private life and worldview does not mean that the therapist will also share information about himself.
The patient should respect when the psychologist refuses to answer his questions. On the other hand, questions about the effectiveness of treatment and how long the psychotherapy takes effect cannot be answered unequivocally – that is why we should not expect the psychotherapist to clearly define when we will notice the results of the meetings.
The first meeting with the therapist - and what next?
You can expect that after the first session of psychotherapy, the psychologist will make an initial diagnosis of the problem and suggest the course of subsequent meetings. Depending on the complexity of the problem and the psychotherapist’s specialization, he may suggest further consultations or a visit to another therapist.
If the problem is very serious, the only solution may be to see an experienced psychiatrist. Some disorders also require group therapy or other forms of help. If you are a busy person or commuting to psychotherapist is troublesome for you, a psychologist may suggest online psychotherapy.
Establishing the principles of therapy
It often turns out that the first meeting with a therapist is organizational rather than therapeutic. If, after the initial conversation and presentation of the treatment plan, we decide to continue the meetings with the specialist, we should establish the terms of cooperation at the very beginning.
Clearing your doubts at this stage will avoid future misunderstandings. It will also be helpful for the patient to decide on the budget needed for the therapy and the amount of time he should spend on it. We should agree, for example, how many times a week and when meetings will be held, what are the payment rules for therapeutic sessions and how and when the visit can be canceled at the latest.
Read more: Psychotherapy Warsaw