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It’s normal to feel nervous, that doesn’t mean you’re in the wrong place

Lori canlas - counselling session

When going through psychotherapy or clinical social work practice for the first time, it is normal to feel hesitant and like you don’t know where to begin. Acknowledging something doesn’t feel okay and asking for help is a big step. As therapists, we are trained to understand these feelings when starting out for the first time or starting again after a long hiatus. It's not easy to be vulnerable about your feelings to somebody you don’t know.

Therapists are trained to understand this predicament and help guide throughout your sessions to help make you feel comfortable working through difficult situations and feelings. Therapists are neutral, non-judgemental parties, who have become highly skilled in working with negative thoughts and feelings.The first couple of sessions are based on getting to know you and your circumstances as well as the support system or lack of it regarding your life challenge(s).

therapy session at bridge dialogue

After a thorough assessment is provided, you will be able to work on an action plan with your therapist on what goals you have in mind and how you would like to prioritize them. This plan will be agreed upon and it can be changed if there are new and pressing matters that may need to be dealt with first. The goals are not rigid and it may be fluid; however, the therapist may recommend going back to certain goals if there is a benefit to your well-being. The therapist will be doing her best to inform you about advantages and disadvantages of certain therapeutic choices in order for you to make an informed decision about your treatment plan.

Your voice matters in therapy and how comfortable you are feeling with the plan or not. Feel free to make your thoughts and feelings known. This is a healing journey that offers careful consideration. 

In the implementation phase, it may feel funny or awkward at first because you may not be used to talking about your feelings or working through certain interventions. The therapist is here to help you understand the interventions along the way. Your feedback during this phase is important as therapists we constantly check in if you are able to manage the interventions well or not or if we need to change it up. In the re-evaluation phase, we can rework and tweak things or confirm the go ahead to continue until you feel you’ve completed your goals or until you see fit.

Lastly, the final session or sessions entail taking stock of what has shifted or not. It is a summary of what has been learned thus for or even re-evaluate if there is a need to work on something different. Nonetheless, it is recommended that prior to ending sessions with a therapist it is good to have a concluding session to help understand how far you’ve come or if you would like to explore further healing. This is also a marker of being able to appreciate the time and care that you invested in your mental health. It may be a time of celebration and reflection. It may also be a time to admit that there is a need to take a hiatus from therapy until a better time becomes available too. We are all at different points in our lives and it is okay own where you are at in your healing journey.

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