How do you start and end therapy?

If this is the first time you’re starting therapy, it may be scary for you. You are not sure if this will work out and may be thinking you don’t want to waste your time and money. Yes, I get it. Below is the breakdown of the typical therapy process, so that you will have some idea of how it is going to be like. One of the important things to remember is you can stop anytime during these steps. You are doing this for you, so you are in charge.

Consultation: Before anything, the therapy process starts with the consultation. The consultation can be done by a phone call or via online exchanges. During the consultation, it will be important to talk about what your needs are, how much you can afford, what your favorite style of therapy is, and whether you want to use insurance or not. It is also important to see if your personality is a good fit with the therapist, and so on.

Assessment: Once you decide to start therapy with a particular therapist, then the therapist will normally conduct the assessment. During the assessment phase, the therapist will figure out what the main issue is. If there are multiple issues, you and the therapist will potentially prioritize them and see what the most pressing one is. Then the therapist will come up with the treatment plan. Some therapist may share the plan with you and some may not. Some go about this process very casually and some more officially. For me, it depends on the person I’m working with.

Beginning: Now, you are finally standing at the start line of the therapy journey. Still, it often takes some time to really start working on the issue. This is because a therapist and you need to “warm up” and build up the trust and therapeutic rapport, which is important in any human relationships.

Middle: Once you start working on the issue, you may be feeling different emotions during and in-between session times. You may feel worse at times as you might remember negative memories, but it is necessary to face those issues in order to heal from them as you need the recognition that those times are over. Remember, you don’t have to do it by yourself – you can do it with your therapist, so you are not alone. In EMDR therapy, you don’t need to talk about those negative past events in detail if you don’t want to. You can still benefit from the therapy.

Some people are looking for a “quick fix”, but unfortunately, they may not get it right away as therapy is a process or some people call it a journey. This does not mean therapists are trying to prolong the sessions just to maximize their profits. As much as we therapists want people to feel better quickly, it does take a while for some people to get there especially if the issues are complicated. With that said, research has shown that EMDR therapy can bring about the positive results more quickly than other therapy modalities.

End: Finally, after several weeks, months, or years, you feel like you achieved certain goals and realize you feel better. At that point, the therapist will start preparing for discharge. You now will be on your own. It may be scary at first, but it is a celebratory time. You may be feeling stronger, wiser, and happier, or feeling “normal” again. For me, it is a pure joy to witness this stage of people’s lives as a therapist. Some people return to the same therapist after some break period for many different reasons, which is OK. However, in my experience, people do not return as often possibly because the effects of EMDR therapy lasts for a long time and people will not get shaken by most life events, which is my ultimate goal – I want people to be fine without a therapist.