THE THERAPEUTIC PROCESS
If you have accessed therapy before you are probably familiar with the process that begins upon the first session. If you haven’t it can be helpful to have an understanding of what you can expect. Each individual session will be 60 minutes long, with the total number of sessions varying from person to person. Let me break down the full process for you:
Typically the first session and maybe even the first 3 sessions can be thought of as the assessment phase. During these sessions you can begin explaining and exploring what your current difficulties are. I will ask questions to deepen the exploration, and both your and my understanding of what is going on. In doing so the aim is for both of us to gain clarity on the reasons behind your difficulties, the factors maintaining issues and the strengths within you that we can begin building on. A helpful starting point during the assessment phase is knowing what it is you hope to gain from therapy, that gives us a goal to work towards.
This next stage of therapy allows us to pull together the information you have provided in attempt to make sense of your particular problems. This is a very collaborative process. No one has a better understanding of you than you. However, sometimes we become a bit blindsided by our own issues but make a lot of use from someone being able to offer up an explanation for why things aren’t getting better. Thus, by working together to formulate your difficulties, we can then move on to developing a treatment plan.
Once we have a good understanding of your difficulties we can begin to enhance your personal strengths and resources by integrating them with specific evidence based treatment models. Continual discussions and feedback is very much encouraged, my aim is always to find what will work best for you. It is usually at this stage that we discuss number and frequency of sessions as well as setting realistic expectations about what can be achieved.
Continual review during the therapeutic process is important to maintain direction and to make sure you perceive the sessions to be beneficial. If you do not then this can become a great opportunity to review what is and what isn’t working. Once treatment has finished and you feel ready to end sessions, reviewing your progress and developing a plan for your future marks the ending of the therapeutic process. This can be a time of mixed emotions given how challenging and rewarding therapy can be but I find that an end of therapy review can be a great way of bringing the work to a close.