NYC Psychotherapist Blog

power by WikipediaMindmap

Sunday, March 3, 2024

10 Tips to Help You Open Up With Your Psychotherapist

If you've never been in therapy before or if you haven't had a good experience with a prior therapist, you might find it difficult to open up with a new psychotherapist, so this article will provide you with some tips that can make it easier for you.

Opening Up With Your Therapist

10 Tips For Opening Up With Your Psychotherapist
  • 1. Start By Choosing a Therapist Who is Right For You: The most important consideration when you're ready to go to therapy is whether you and any potential therapist you might choose are a good fit. Starting with a new therapist can be an adjustment--especially if you've never been in therapy before. It's a unique relationship where the focus is on you. Before committing to therapy with any particular therapist, you can attend a consultation with a therapist to see if you feel comfortable her. You might not be certain after one consultation, but you can usually tell after a few sessions. Even after you have chosen a therapist, it takes a while to build a rapport with a therapist because you're talking about the most emotionally vulnerable aspects of your life, so give it time. Also, make sure the therapist has the expertise you need for your problems (see my article: How to Choose a Psychotherapist).
  • 2. Think About What You Want to Talk About Before Your Sessions: If you want to get the most out of your therapy sessions, take some time before the session to reflect on what you want to talk about.  Many clients find it helpful to make notes for themselves so they use their time well in session. There are also many other clients who prefer to be more spontaneous in session because that's what works best for them. But if you have problems opening up to talk about yourself, prior reflection can be helpful (see my article: Getting the Most Out of Your Therapy Sessions).
  • 3. Talk About Your Fear or Anxiety About Opening Up to Your Therapist: Most therapists know that clients often have a hard time opening up, especially if they weren't encouraged to talk about their feelings when they were growing up. A skilled therapist can help you to get comfortable enough to explore your fear or anxiety about opening up so you can eventually open up.  If a therapist is a mind-body oriented therapist, she can help you to get more comfortable with breathing or grounding exercises.
  • 4. Consider Your Therapy Sessions a Collaboration Between You and Your Therapist: Therapy is a team effort.  Gone are the days when therapists just listened to you talk and after a while made an interpretation that was supposed to unlock profound insights. These days therapy is much less hierarchical and there's a recognition that clients and therapists work together in therapy to make it a meaningful experience. Although your therapist can help you to speak about difficult topics, you have the responsibility for initiating what you want to talk about.  Therapists aren't advisors, so they won't provide you with answers to your problems, but they can help you through the process (see my article: Psychotherapy as a Collaborative Effort Between Client and Therapist).
Opening Up With Your Therapist

  • 5. Take Some Time Before the Session to Relax, If Possible: It's understood that most people lead busy lives, but if it's possible for you to take even a few minutes before your session, do some breathing or stretching to help you relax before the session starts.
  • 6. Keep Your Therapy Appointments on a Regular Basis and Come On Time: In order to keep the momentum going in your therapy, you need to come regularly. It's understood that you might have to cancel once in a while (make sure you know your therapist's cancellation policy), but weekly sessions are generally the expectation.  Coming on time allows you to have the full benefit of the therapy time because sessions start and end at the appointed time, so if you're late, you won't get a full session (see my article: How to Keep the Momentum Going in Your Therapy).
  • 7, Keep the Focus on Your Sessions Without Distractions During Your Appointment: This means you don't have any other distractions (e.g., phones, pets, etc) so you can stay focused on your session. If you're having an online session, make sure you have absolute privacy. Therapy sessions where you don't have privacy are considered unethical and therapists won't conduct a session under those circumstances. 
Opening Up With Your Therapist

  • 8. Recognize That Therapy is a Process: You might not feel comfortable divulging the most vulnerable parts of yourself during the initial stage of therapy and that's alright. Give it time.  If you have issues opening up about a particular topic that you would like to work on, tell your therapist about your difficulty so she can help you to get comfortable (see my article: Progress in Therapy Isn't Linear and Setbacks Are a Normal Part of Therapy on the Road to Healing).
  • 9. Opening Up Usually Gets Easier Over Time: Assuming you and your therapist are a good match, opening up usually becomes easier over time as you build a rapport with your therapist and develop trust and confidence.  This is also part of the process.
  • 10. Talk About the Therapy With Your Therapist: If you're not sure about the process, talk to your therapist about it. Whether you're in the initial stage of therapy or you have been attending for a while, you can talk to your therapist about how you think therapy is going.  Many therapists do a check-in with clients periodically to see how the clients are feeling about the therapy, but you can talk about the therapy at any time, especially if there's something you don't understand or an area where you and your therapist don't agree. It's also a good idea to talk about the therapeutic relationship and whether you think it's going well.  If there's anything you feel went wrong in a session, bring it up so it can be addressed as soon as possible (see my article: Ruptures and Repairs in Therapy).
You can usually get a sense of whether you and your therapist are a good match.  If it's not a good match, you can tell your therapist rather than ghosting her. Experienced therapist are aware that every therapist isn't for every client, so this shouldn't be a problem.

Most clients get comfortable opening up over time, but if you have a particularly difficult time and you're aware that you and your therapist are a good match, bring up your difficulty in your therapy session.

Your therapist can help you to identify and work on overcoming whatever emotional obstacles might be getting in your way.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT therapist (for couples), Somatic Experiencing and sex therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.