Saturday, February 18, 2012

E-book - Therapy guide for "beginner clients" - help needed!

One of the things that I like best about writing this blog is having an opportunity to help guide people through the often-complicated process of becoming a therapy client. As therapists, we do this therapy thing every day. For new clients, the process can be daunting and complex, and resistance to figuring the whole thing out can be enough to keep someone out of therapy.

There are plenty of things for clients to think about before, during, and after therapy. How do I find a therapist? What do I talk about in sessions? Are there things I should keep to myself? Does my therapist really care about me? How do I ask for a different kind of treatment? How do I know when I'm done? The list goes on and on.

In an effort to help with these questions, and more, I'm putting together an e-book to share with people who are just starting on their journey as a client, and with current clients who'd like to expand their therapeutic horizons. And I need your help!

I'd love to hear, in comments here or in email (, what sorts of questions YOU have about therapy and therapists. I'll incorporate your questions into the book.

Please feel free to share this link so others can contribute, and learn. And I'll be sure to let you know when the book is ready!


  1. I'm so glad you're doing this. Can't wait to see the final product.

    I would definitely include the q&a that you've done here so far. Additionally, though, I might add answers to the following (if you haven't already covered them):

    1) How long do my therapy records stay on file?

    2) Who has access to my therapy records?

    3) Can/will my therapy records be used against me in any way?

    4) How can I tell the warning signs of a "bad" therapist? / What are the signs of a "good" therapist?


  2. These are great, Kate. Thanks so much! Records questions are really popular with new clients, and I can see why. Having your personal stuff written down and stuck in someone else's drawer is kind of rough!

  3. If you've been with one therapist for a while but don't feel that they are exactly what you need, how do you go about making the switch? Will it hurt your therapist's feelings if you drop them?

    Do therapists think about their patients outside of the workplace? Do they ever talk about their patients to others? I know it's a breach of trust to name names or anything, but do they ever say things like "I have a patient who ____"?

    Is it possible to get a good therapist for under $100 a session? I don't want a total NooB but I don't want to break the bank either.

    Does my therapist think his patients are ALL nuts, me included? Or does he think, "I have some crazy patients, but SOME miiight just turn out okay!"?

    1. Relatedly, how long should I stay with the first therapist I choose before deciding they're not for me?

      Also: Will getting therapy screw me over on future health insurance applications?

    2. Eavan - maybe this link will help with question number one.

      As for the second... Good one.

  4. Molly: Great ideas.. thank you.

    Here are a couple things to get you started, in the meantime. The first is about how to "fire" your therapist. The second addresses thinking about clients between visits. I like the spin you put on it - do therapists talk to each OTHER? Excellent questions! - jeff

  5. (It's working for me now, yay! I mean, the website is.)

    Do people with ADHD drive therapists nuts? We're so distractable sometimes, and ADHD never really goes away, so it must seem like we'll never get "better."

  6. That's a great one, April. I personally LOVE working with ADHD clients, because in a college setting our work can have a HUGE impact on the client's life.

    I think your question opens the door to some really important basic concepts about change and healing. Thank you.

  7. Things to think about as a new client:

    1. How willing am I to really listen to what the therapist says?

    2. How open am I willing to be? How much of my "stuff" am I willing to put out there? Am I willing to put it all on the line?

    3. How much time and energy am I willing to commit to continuing my growth between sessions? Am I willing to do homework between sessions?

    Things to think about during the first couple of sessions with a new therapist, or prior to finding a therapist:

    1. How do I *feel* about sharing my stuff with this person? (If I don't feel right... why? When do I know it's time to shop around for someone else who is better suited to me?)

    2. What can the therapist do to challenge me (to grow) between sessions? For example... Is this therapist giving me "homework" or things to do/think about between sessions... and if not, do I want that?

    3. Do I need to look for a male or female? What kind of specialist should I look for?

    4. How will I know when I've found the right therapist for me? (My personal answer is... when I am willing to let this person see and know EVERYTHING about me, no holds barred....)

  8. A question I do you get used to a life after you can't afford to see your therapist anymore?

    When that connection is simply over..steps on how to move on.

    That would be helpful.

  9. Good question. And that one is tough on the therapist, too. Trust me.

    I think I'm starting to see the book as a before, during, and after kind of structure.

  10. Are there any specific questions I can ask a potential therapist to help me find out if they are right for me, and if so, what are they?

    Is it important for me to have specific goals in mind of what I would like to get out of therapy or what issues I want to work on before making an appointment to see someone?

    If I feel my therapist is not right for me, will they be offended if I ask them if they can refer me to someone who might be better for me?

    Thanks for doing this Doc! I hope this guide will help people feel more comfortable seeking help from therapists.

  11. What if I know I should get therapy, but I'm too afraid to?
    How do I get over the "I'm paying them to care?"

  12. I think I'll devote a post to this question. Something to think about - are you going to a therapist so they will care, or so they will help? I can virtually guarantee you that your therapist will care about you, but it's worth thinking about whether that's what it is you're going to therapy for.

    I'll post about this soon. Thanks for the great idea, and I hope it will help.

  13. Yes therapists talk to each other about clients...something to include as well as supervision and the pluses to that. Are you, the client willing to work hard and make sure that your therpist facilitates hard work? Or, do you want a supportive that really worth paying for? I have a very minimal if any support system, but I definatly want more than just a cheerleader. Another subject..attachment issues and the feelings that might arise in therapy...and are normal. Pace of disclosure to not get overwhlemed....everything doesnt need to be guided thru all at once.....that would be crazy making. Therapy takes time. How does it feel for the therpist to have a very needy client who lives for the caring aspect in their relationship? I don't mean being a client that pushes the boundaries, but I guess that would be helpful for some too as it might be good to know how it affects the therapist. Transferance issues aare a good point. IS the client able to be involved in the treatment they get a DX? How do therapists feel about hospitalization and /or relapses.

  14. I can't wait to read your book! I would be interested in reading something about eye contact during therapy, and how to become more comfortable with it if you are having trouble.

  15. Onegirl - can you tell me a little more about what you mean? Do you mean if you have trouble with eye contact in therapy, or overall?

  16. Sure- it is solely a problem in therapy, as it does not happen for me elsewhere. But the thought of looking at my counselor as I'm telling her very personal things feels very scary. It might be because I'm afraid of what I will see reflected back to me, or that I feel uncomfortable since I feel that she will be able to completely "see" me. And then I feel like I'm being rude for not looking at her, and worry that she is somewhat annoyed by it.

  17. That's a very, very common reaction. We're really used to that. I think that whatever it takes for you to be able to get those words out is fine with me... whether that means no eye contact, curled up with a pillow, staring out the window... anything that makes you comfortable. If it's something you want to work on, you can talk to your therapist about it and see if they'd like to help with some things you can try in session. Great idea for a post. I'll write more about this. Thank you!