Dr. Eileen Callahan, Ph.D.: What to Expect

Since therapy is a very personal process, every individual will both approach and respond to therapy in different ways. There is no "one size fits all" approach and no magic pill to simply make you better. But there are some general patterns and approaches to therapy.

People who have not been to therapy often believe it is like the media portrays it…the client lays on a couch and talks about their problems and the therapist responds with comments such as, "How does that make you feel?" This is not typically what therapy is like. Some media portrayals are accurate, but many are misleading. Even though each therapist has their own way of doing things, there are certainly similarities amongst most therapists.

  • Therapy is usually a dialogue rather than a monologue.
  • It involves teamwork between the therapist and the client working together to accomplish goals that were decided upon by both parties.
  • Both the therapist and the client must put forth energy and effort in order for these changes to take place.

Your First Visit

The first session or two of therapy is typically spent gathering information. The therapist will likely have the client fill out some forms that include basic demographic information and insurance information. Some therapists also have the client fill out forms that ask questions about history and presenting problems. Here are some general things to expect:

  • Typically, the first session starts with the client discussing what brought them to therapy.
  • The therapist will ask questions about history, medical issues, medications, current life stressors and current symptoms or problems.
  • At the end of this information gathering, oftentimes, the therapist and the client will identify specific goals for treatment.

Treatment sessions are generally on a regular weekly basis, and last approximately 45 minutes to one hour, depending upon the therapist and the type of therapy. The length of treatment varies from person to person depending upon the issues they are dealing with and the desired outcome of treatment.

After a few sessions, a therapist should be able to give some rough estimate of the probable length of therapy.

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