The MLRA Therapy Blog

Insights and ideas from the therapist team at Meghan L. Reitz and Associates.

What to Expect from Counseling and Therapy

What should you expect out of therapy? This often is a question that brings a broad spectrum of answers. You might think of therapy as meeting with someone to share dark secrets of your childhood while you lie on a couch and a man who looks like Freud makes notes. Or maybe you think of it as something only "crazy" people do that can't cope with life. Whatever your take on it, be assured that it isn't like what's shown on television or in the movies. It can actually be a rather amazing experience if you find the right therapist.

So, what should you expect?

  • Your therapist should be approachable.
  • Your therapist will not be your friend.
  • Your therapist should be knowledgeable or have experience working with individuals with similar situations or issues that you are presenting.
  • Your therapist is not available to you 24/7. Your therapist will go over the times they are available and how to get a hold of him/her. Typically there is a 24-48 hour return phone call policy. If it's an emergency, call 911 or go to the emergency room.
  • Your therapist will not tell you what to do. They will guide you and make suggestions, but ultimately, you have to make your own decisions and choices.
  • Even if you have health insurance, don't expect that it will cover the costs of therapy. Be familiar with your benefits and work with your insurance company and your therapist to sort out deductibles, copays, and other fees.
  • Your therapist should be on time. Us therapists are all late at one time or another and have our occasional emergencies and personal interferences. However, for the most part, your therapist should be running on time for your appointment. If he/she is late (we're talking more than 15 minutes past your start time), then talk to him/her about it. 
  • Be on time for your appointment. Therapists typically have pretty tight schedules and do not run like a typical doctor's office. If you're late, this may mean that you won't get extra time to make up the time lost for your appointment.
  • If you need to cancel, call. Do not rely on texting and emailing as avenues to let someone know you aren't coming to an appointment. Be courteous- no showing is a big no no. That time is scheduled for you and could have been provided to another client in need.
  • Expect homework. You will have work to do in between sessions. The work doesn't just happen during your appointment.
  • If you bump into your therapist outside of the office, you may approach him/her but understand, that due to confidentiality, he/she will not initiate contact. So, it's up to you!
  • Be honest. Your therapist can only help you as far or as much as you are willing to put out there.
  • Feeling uncomfortable or have a concern? Speak up! Therapists are not mind-readers and they are also human. We all make mistakes and we all have different interpretations of situations. 
  • Be open to your therapist drawing boundaries.
  • Trust you therapist. Your therapist has your best interest at heart.
  • Ask your therapist to coordinate with your psychiatrist or other medical professionals as needed.
  • If you need phone sessions, frequent email exchanges, documentation, etc., your therapist may need to charge you for time spent on these thing. Often these kinds of requests are not covered by insurance.

What about my therapist's approach to counseling/therapy?

  • Every therapist is different. And that's ok!
  • Your first couple of sessions will be an assessment of the issues you're needing help with and if your therapist is an appropriate fit.
  • During this time, you will also work together on a game plan based on the concerns you've presented.
  • The usual model for counseling is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. If you Google it, you can get an idea of what that entails. Also, if you snoop around our blog, you'll certainly get a sense of how we do counseling at MLRA!
  • MLRA incorporates Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with a mix of Adlerian, Family Systems, Jungian, and Solution-Focused models.
  • Your therapist will help you set goals and identify steps to achieve these goals.
  • Play and art therapy is a common method used with children and pre-teens.
  • Emotion-Focused and Gottman-based principles are used for couples work.

How long do I have to go to therapy before I see results?

  • It's really up to you- if you're doing the homework assigned and are highly motivated- then we typically say about 12 weeks (based on seeing the therapist once a week for three months).
  • Sometimes it is longer or shorter depending on the issue at hand.
  • Children and adolescents take time to warm up and typically need more time in order to see changes. This is dependent on whether the family is actively engaged with therapy and parents are using healthy parenting skills.

What if I have other questions and want to speak to the therapist before making an appointment?

  • Many busy practices are unable to offer free consultations prior to setting up an appointment.
  • Just as you would see a physician for a physical issue and not speak to him/ her directly beforehand, the same is often found with therapy practices.
  • Many general questions can be answered by looking over the information on a practice's website.
  • Do some research on how therapy and counseling works through Google.*

All of your questions may not have been answered in this blog article. If you have others, please share them in the comments box and we will be sure to write another blog article to try to address them. A good rule of thumb is don't be afraid to ask. Therapists are here to help!

*MLRA encourages clients to keep an open-mind when coming into sessions with the practice. Sometimes we research so much that we lose sight of the true purpose of our needing help.

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