How Does Individual Therapy Work?

Taking the first step in your mental health journey often looks like enlisting the help of a therapist. However, those who may not have attended any therapy sessions in the past can sometimes feel anxious about the road ahead. If this is the case for you, the good news is that one-on-one therapy is easy to understand and find. If this is your first time looking for counseling, here’s what you can expect and a few tips to ensure that you get the most out of your time with your counselor. 

Individual therapy is designed to help you get the personalized care you need.

In some cases, group therapy or family therapy can be helpful for those who are dealing with issues that are affecting the whole family. However, if the issue is your behavior or mental illness and it’s impacting only your life, speaking with a psychologist one-on-one will give you the tailored care you need to move past your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Individual therapy will allow you to connect with a psychiatrist who understands your situation (substance use, depression, eating disorders, etc.) and knows which type of therapy (cognitive-behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, etc.) to apply to give you effective treatment you desire. Individual counseling will then carry on for so many days throughout the week as you dive deeper into your life, discover and work through past trauma, and figure out how to lead the life you want. 

Put simply, talk therapy and other forms of therapy in an individual setting equip you with the tools and treatment plan you need to effectively work through personal issues and mental health conditions. 

It’s important to have the right therapist for individual therapy. 

Some people believe that you go to therapy, get well, and return to life. However, that’s not quite how it works. Therapy is something that you need to seek overtime, and the type of therapist you have is crucial to your healing journey. Not every therapist is going to be a good fit for you, but don’t be discouraged. Instead, have a list of questions ready for your therapist at the first session, give your therapist a chance over a couple of sessions to see if you connect with them, and inform them if it’s not the right fit. Then, look for another therapist who understands you and knows exactly how to reach you. You won’t always get it right the first time, but you’re sure to find a great therapist for you if you keep looking!

What you do outside of therapy is just as important as your sessions.

One thing that few people learn when they go to individual therapy is that their therapists are not miracle workers. They can only give you the tools and advice you need to change your life. It’s up to you to take this advice and manifest the change that you wish to see. As such, you must listen closely to them, give it your all, and do some research on your own to better understand how you can work on alleviating your symptoms and changing your thought or behavioral patterns. For example, if you find yourself regularly overwhelmed at work or home, looking for healthy coping mechanisms you can use until your next therapy session will help you support your needs outside of therapy. Therapists can help you, but you still have to do the work. 

Understanding individual therapy sets the foundation for a better therapeutic process once you find the right therapist. If you’re looking into therapy for yourself, the comprehensive guide above will tell you everything you need to know about individual therapy to make the most of it.

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