22/11/2023 by Therapy For You

What can I expect from mental health therapy and counselling?

What can I expect from mental health therapy and counselling?

If you’ve been having a hard time with your mental health for months or more, you may be considering professional support to help improve the way you cope with your emotional challenges.


Despite the proven effectiveness of mental health counselling, we understand you might have reservations about beginning therapy, especially if you’re not sure what to expect from it.


In this blog, we explain what mental health therapy is, everything you can expect from our counselling sessions, and the reality behind common myths that might be stopping you from seeking support.


What is mental health therapy?


Mental health therapy, sometimes referred to as talking therapy, counselling or psychotherapy, are treatments that involve speaking to a trained psychological wellbeing practitioner about your thoughts, feelings and behaviours.


Effective at treating many common mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, stress, and panic attacks, the overall goal of therapy is to help you understand why you feel the way you do, and give you tools and techniques to manage these challenges now and in the future. 


While there are various types of mental health treatments available, professional counselling services work to create a safe, comfortable and confidential environment so you can start to overcome your difficulties with confidence. 


What can I expect from therapy?


While various organisations have their own methods of talking therapy, here’s what you can expect when approaching our service at Therapy For You.


What will my first session involve?


Before you begin with your first session, we will conduct an initial assessment with you to get an idea of the challenges you’re currently facing. We often choose to complete this over the phone, as telephone therapy is a convenient, stress-free introduction to treatment for many.


After this, you will be placed on our waiting list. While the time between your initial assessment and your chosen therapy can vary, we work hard to make this period as short as possible for everyone who begins their journey with us.


From here, you will attend your first session, informally discussing the areas where you are struggling with your counsellor. At the same time, you will work with your therapist to build trust and a strong therapeutic relationship – something important to the success of your treatment.


In preparation of your first therapy session, consider the following useful steps:

  • Write down a list of any topics or feelings you want to discuss
  • Consider what questions you would like to ask your therapist
  • Think about what your goals – what do you want to get from therapy?
  • Make time to relax and take care of yourself before your session starts

What will I talk about in therapy?


In your sessions, you will explore a wide range of topics, from discussions about effective treatments and the mental health challenges you’re facing, to how you feel, think and behave.


We understand that some of these talking points can be daunting to discuss with someone you have just met. That is why our counsellors work hard to create a confidential, private space where you feel safe opening up.


As part of this, you will only ever be encouraged to share at your own pace. There is never any expectation to talk about sensitive topics until you’re ready, or at all if you prefer.


Through active communication, you can form a greater understanding of your mental health condition, and how to better manage it for the future.


How does therapy work?


Therapy is a gradual process – one that helps you establish positive ways of thinking, feeling and behaving by making small, sustainable steps week after week.


As well as talking with your therapist about what’s on your mind, our tailored mental health support encourages positive progress by teaching you lifelong coping techniques to practise in daily life.


Along the way, you will be introduced to one of the many evidence-based therapies our mental health professionals are qualified in, such as: 

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): An approach that focuses on making positive changes to how you think and behave to improve how you feel
  • Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT): A combination of CBT, meditation and mindfulness.
  • Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy (DIT): Treatment that focuses on the influence of your past experiences on your mental wellbeing.
  • Interpersonal Therapy (IPT): An approach that centres on resolving interpersonal problems, such as your relationships with loved ones and colleagues.
  • Couple Therapy for Depression (CTfD): A dedicated treatment to help you overcome depression that is affecting you and your partner’s relationship.
  • Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR): A practical technique that helps you process negative emotions associated with your trauma

Our goal is to help you steer clear of unhelpful triggers and habits, and equip you with the means to maintain positive progress long after your treatment ends.


How long does therapy last?


Our mental health support is tailored to your needs, which means there is no strict time frame for your recovery. With that said, we often see patients make meaningful improvements after 8-16 therapy sessions.


To help you incorporate therapy as a regular part of your routine, we also aim to hold your appointments at the same time every week.


What pathways to treatment are available?


For the best results, therapy requires a dedicated approach. But we also understand that the challenges of your day-to-day life can become a significant barrier. That is why we offer a wide range of treatment options to suit your preferences.


Why do people avoid seeking therapy?


It’s common to feel uncertain about reaching out for help because you’re not sure what to expect. But this isn’t the only reason people might hesitate accessing the support they need. 


Here we outline some of the most common misconceptions about therapy, and explain why they’re untrue.


“I don’t want to be trapped in therapy forever”


Regardless of your goals or the treatment pathway you choose, our therapy sessions last only as long as they need to. Often, that’s between 8 and 16 therapy sessions.


We determine how many appointments are suitable for you during your initial telephone assessment, and then flexibly adapt to your responses during the course of your therapy.


“I worry I won’t feel comfortable with my therapist”


Our therapists aim to create a strong therapeutic relationship with you from the very first session, so you can feel safe and supported during your treatment. 


However, in the rare case you end up feeling uncomfortable with your practitioner, you can request a new therapist. We do encourage you to talk through your issues first, but if you are still unhappy, we can assign someone else.


“I don’t want to open up to a stranger”


We understand that the idea of opening up to your therapist can feel intimidating. That’s why we encourage you to share at your own pace, and only if you feel comfortable doing so.


In addition, talking about your emotions and challenges is not the only way you can start feeling better. Many of our therapies involve learning and practising coping techniques to help you improve the way you manage difficulties.


So if you are unsure about therapy, keep these three thoughts in mind…

  1. You will progress only at a pace that suits you
  2. You can choose your own path to feeling better
  3. You will only ever be supported, never judged

Get started with mental health therapy today


Every day, millions of people in the UK grapple with mental health challenges. If you’re one of the many finding it hard to cope, you don’t have to tackle these difficulties on your own.


Our dedicated practitioners are here to help you throughout the entire process, supporting you on your journey to feeling better. 


As the local NHS mental health service provider for North East and South East Essex, we at Therapy For You offer a range of free, supportive talking therapies to help, including:

For more information on the support we can provide, or to find a therapist today, get in touch.


Alternatively, if you or a loved one needs immediate help, visit our crisis page or contact your GP for an emergency appointment.

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