What happens in a therapy session?

It can be nerve wracking to wonder how your therapy appointment will go or what to expect if you haven’t been to a session before! Every therapist and practice is different, AND there are some basic processes you can expect and gain knowledge on what will happen, what to count on, and what you deserve.

I’ll base this blog off how we operate at Cloverleaf Counseling and what I have seen from many colleagues and other agencies I have been apart of.

Before you come into a session

Marriage and Family Therapists see clients in all groupings. Individually, with a child, the whole family, partners, dating etc… Many other licences will do the same. You can ask the therapist about who will be seen and what to expect. 
I speak with new clients by phone to answer questions and make sure I am a good fit for you. Then you get scheduled. 

There are MANY sites online to read up on therapists in your area and their clinical information before you make the first call. This can be helpful to familiarize yourself with options, see what different therapists specialize in, what their hours are and even what type of payments they accept. I love using Psychology Today for this service.

Once you’ve made an appointment

After you scheduled with your therapist you can plan on some light paperwork before you begin your first session. You’ll have an informed consent document that explains what to expect from therapy, limits of confidentiality, HIPPA and so on. You’ll get clear information on payments, fees, scheduling, and the general process of therapy and have the opportunity to discuss and ask any questions you have with the therapist. 
Next you’ll get to know your therapist and begin information gathering and any assessments your therapist needs. You’ll set goals for your therapy and dive in!

*One thing about therapy in a small town is bumping into your therapist around is common! It can happen in any size city but it is inevitable in a rural or small area. You will discuss this with your therapist in your first session. The general rule is you can greet your therapist or say hello if YOU CHOOSE to. Therapists will take your lead and won’t seek you out in public. This gives you the freedom to speak if you wish and avoid the “bumping into each other” if you prefer. Your therapist won’t care either way! You get to ignore them without any worry about hurting feelings.

Limits of confidentiality

You reserve confidentiality and privacy when you go into the therapy room. You can speak freely knowing what you say won’t be judged and won’t leave the room. With a few exceptions for information leaving the room.
You’ll be notified of the exceptions in the first session as mentioned above.

When will the therapist break confidentiality?

1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
*If this is true your therapist will discuss the situation with you and assess if there is immediate danger. If there is, it won’t be kept secret. The therapist will immediately acquire the correct next step of calling for crisis assistance*
2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as the case of child or elder abuse
*If this is true it won’t be kept secret. The therapist will immediately report the unsafe behavior that is endangering a child, and elderly person, or a person with disabilities that cannot protect themselves.
3. To share diagnosis information as necessary to obtain payment for services
*If you’re using insurance you’ll have a diagnosis and the therapist will need to provide some information to the insurance to submit the bill. You’ll be aware of all of this information and can ask the therapist for the information at any time.
4. As required by federal or state laws
*There are certain crimes and situations that are reportable. You can break this down in your first session or at anytime. You have the right to know what the therapist can and will keep confidential before you to disclose it in a session.

Your therapy is used to these conversations and WANTS to discuss it. An informed client is something therapists value. You can have these conversations without worrying that it’s odd or alarming to your therapist.

Every therapist will operate differently, have different treatment modalities, styles and processes. Your rights and ethical treatment are deserved and and can be expected by any therapist regardless of their license or treatment style. The most crucial indicator of successful therapy is the rapport and trust you have with your therapist. It is valuable for you to have some expectations of your rights and the opportunity to look up the therapist profile on sites such as Psychology Today and really know what your options are. If you don’t like one therapist you may LOVE the next. There is a therapist and style that works for everyone. If you have had a poor experience do know that every therapist isn’t the same and you deserve the right fit for you 🙂