Family and Friends Health Care Mental Health

What to Talk About in Therapy

A Therapist Speaks to His Patient and Put's his Hand on His Shoulder

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Therapy offers a whole host of benefits, including helping increase your self-awareness, heal from past hurts and improve your personal relationships. But it can also feel overwhelming, especially in the beginning.

Sometimes the biggest hurdle is simply knowing what to discuss with a therapist. Your thoughts may feel jumbled and you’re uncertain how to bring up sensitive topics, or even worry you’ll run out of things to say. But we’re here to help with tips on how to get the conversation going — and keep it flowing — as the foundation for a positive patient-therapist relationship.

What is Talk Therapy?

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines psychotherapy, or talk therapy, as a variety of treatments aimed to help a person identify and change troubling emotions, thoughts and behaviors. Simply put, it means one-on-one discovery and conversation with a licensed mental health professional.


Why Starting Therapy Can Be Difficult

The quality of your therapy is linked to your relationship with your therapist. When you and your therapist are well-matched, you’ll get more out of your sessions. Still, as with any relationship worth having, building trust takes time. Especially at first, you may find it hard to talk openly.

It’s normal to feel like your problems are too small, or even too big, and that discussing your loved ones seems disloyal. But therapy is a safe space to discuss anything on your mind. If you feel uncomfortable, let your therapist know. They are specially trained to help you overcome any barriers to treatment.

During your first session, the therapist will ask you general questions to get to know you better. If you’re worried about your therapist asking probing questions, they will either be saved for once there is a solid foundation of trust, or they’ll allow you to bring up topics as you feel comfortable, so you won’t feel pressured. As you become more comfortable with your therapist over time, it gets easier to open up.

What to Talk About in Therapy

To get the most out of therapy, it’s helpful to come prepared. Before your sessions, think about the topics you’d like to discuss, and what you hope to get out of each one.

Consider your:

  • Goals: Sharing what you hope to accomplish from therapy is a good place to begin; then, giving additional insights into your life goals can continue to drive the discussion
  • Life transitions: A behavioral health professional can help during major life changes like job loss, moving, retirement or relationship changes
  • Past experiences: Discussing past experiences can be helpful; in fact, certain types of therapies are designed to help people heal from past traumas
  • Relationships and interpersonal issues: In therapy, you can explore challenges in work or home relationships; therapists can help you make connections you might not have been able to on your own and help you overcome any difficulties with your communication style
  • Small stuff: Even if they seem inconsequential, sometimes “the small stuff” is actually more important than you think. Talking about smaller issues can lead to meaningful discovery; how you react to minor problems can lead to important insights about yourself, helping you better handle everyday challenges

When You Feel Stuck

Sometimes, even after getting to know your therapist, you may feel like you’ve reached a dead end. Here are some strategies for getting over the hurdles:

  • Discuss your progress: After setting goals, return to them over time to see how you’re doing; together, you and your therapist can assess your progress. You can transition from working on goals you’ve met to making new ones
  • Embrace the silence: There can be uncomfortable pauses in the conversation, but the quiet time can be productive and allow time for you to reflect on your emotions; a skilled mental health professional can use these silences to guide you
  • Tell your therapist: If you arrive at a session unsure of what to discuss, talk about it. Your therapist may revisit past discussions. Digging deeper into existing concerns can spark new insights
  • Write it down: Journaling helps you reflect on your thoughts and feelings. When you have new insights outside the therapy room, share them with your therapist at your next session

We’re Here for Your Whole-Person Care

As with most things in life, therapy is what you make of it. Open communication is key to a successful experience. Being honest and forthcoming can help you heal. If you’d like to talk with a therapist, AdventHealth’s mental health professionals are ready to help you feel at ease.

Our compassionate team looks forward to get to know you and will work hard to help you create a care plan that meets your unique mental health needs.

Take the first step toward a more vibrant you. Learn more about our behavioral health services today.

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