How To Talk To Your Therapist

When you meet with a new psychologist, you might have difficulty discussing your mental health challenges—and that’s completely normal.

Depending on the type of talk therapy, your psychologist or therapist might lead the conversation with open-ended questions about your mental health goals or past experiences. Other times, it’s up to you to decide what to talk about during your therapy sessions.

Effective treatment depends on your ability to open up and play an active part in your treatment plan. So, how should you decide what to talk about in therapy? Here’s how to start the conversation with your psychologist so you can make the most out of every therapy session.

How to talk to your therapist

Remember that there’s no “right” or “wrong” thing to talk about.

Sometimes, it might feel like you need to dive into “deep” issues in therapy. Even if you’re overcoming trauma or living with a mental illness, there are no “right” or “wrong” topics to discuss during your therapy sessions. Your psychotherapy sessions are what you make of them—and you’re free to talk about whatever you want.

Of course, some clients start talk therapy to address specific mental health issues, like anxiety disorders, substance abuse, or compassion fatigue. Other times, clients are navigating periods of emotional distress or a significant life transition and want to discuss their private thoughts with a mental health professional.

If you’re struggling to open up, remember that nothing is off-limits. Finding the right words to express your feelings might seem impossible, but a good therapist will always provide a supportive environment for healing.

Ready for an appointment?

Bring a notebook to your therapy sessions.

Maybe you’re thinking of topics to discuss between therapy sessions, but when you sit down at your appointment, your mind switches to radio silence. If you’re having difficulty remembering what to talk about, try writing your thoughts in a notebook and bringing them to your next session.

You don’t have to bring your notebook to every therapy session, but writing notes about your behavioral patterns and feelings can help you recognize trends. For example, it might be time to talk about these issues with your counselor if you’re dealing with self-esteem issues or conflicts with family members. Putting pen to paper is also a healthy way to express your thoughts, feelings, and emotions between sessions.

Focus on the present moment.

You might experience negative thoughts, emotional distress, or other mental health issues during the week, but if you’re not feeling that way right now, you don’t have to start with that. Think about how you’re feeling in the present moment, and tell your psychologist how you feel—even if it’s just “I don’t have energy for social interactions today because I’m stressed out from work.”

Ultimately, your mental health needs change from day to day. It’s OK if you drove to your psychotherapy session planning to talk about low self-esteem but spent the session ranting about your coworker. Sometimes, what you need most is a safe space to vent.

How can you find the right therapist?

Whether you’re starting psychotherapy for the first time or searching for a new psychologist, it’s important to find a good fit. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), your therapeutic relationship can have lasting impacts on your mental health, even after the end of treatment.

Not only that but finding a supportive therapist can make therapy sessions that much easier. It’s normal for difficult emotions to come up during therapy sessions, but you should always feel comfortable sharing your thoughts, feelings, and mental health challenges with your psychologist. If you feel discomfort after your first sessions, listen to your gut and search for a better fit.

To find the right fit, reach out to a mental health professional through The Therapy Group of DC. We’re here to help you care for your mental health with confidential access to personalized treatment. One of our licensed psychotherapists will create a safe space for you to express your feelings, learn new skills, and take the first step toward better mental health.

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