8 things to consider before entering therapy

8 things to consider before entering therapy

When going through a separation or divorce it is a good idea to talk to a professional that can help you through the many difficult emotions that come with a failed relationship. No matter what your needs are there is probably a trained professional out there that can help you work through the painful feelings and move on with your life. That being said, there are a few things you should know about therapy before you commit to the process. Here are the top 8 things you should consider before you start therapy.

Choose the right therapist for you

Not every therapist can be everything to everyone. Credentials are important so look for someone whose practice is overseen by a regulatory body like the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario, the College of Psychologists of Ontario, or the Ontario College of Social Workers.

Finding the right fit is just as important as the credentials they hold. You want to make sure that the therapist you are seeing not only has the right training, expertise and experience, but also has a personality and style that meshes with yours. It is ok to comparison shop and see a few different therapists before you settle on the one that is right for you. Trust your intuition. Sometimes it takes trying a few different therapists before it clicks and that’s just fine.

Your commitment to the process is important

Therapy is much more than receiving support during a difficult time. A good therapist will offer you support and empathy but they will also challenge you to step out of your comfort zone, learn new skills and try new behaviours. Their job is to help you figure out what needs to change in your life to decrease your suffering and help you navigate those changes.

Your commitment to doing your homework and trying new things outside of the therapy session is important to the process. If you aren’t ready to commit to change you may not ready for therapy.

You might feel worse before you feel better

Part of a therapist’s job is to delve into difficult emotions in order to process them and move on. Sometimes you will leave a session feeling better and other times you may leave feeling a little raw. That pain can be indicative that you are processing something important.

Therapists appreciate your honesty

The more you open up about yourself the better your therapist will be able to help. If you feel like things aren’t working out make sure you are honest about it with them. It is OK to terminate the relationship or ask for a referral. Don’t ghost them and drop off the face of the earth. Be honest so that they can adjust or change their approach and improve as practitioners.

They don’t give advice

A therapist won’t be able to tell you whether to leave your marriage. Clients often enter therapy hoping they will have someone to tell them what to do in a particular situation. A therapist’s job is to help YOU figure out how to move forward in the best way possible. The goal of a good therapist should be to help their clients increase their autonomy and ability to cope effectively without giving advice or steering them in one direction or another.

They are not in it for the money

Therapy costs may seem high, especially since they are not covered by OHIP and private insurance coverage is often limited. It is important to know that therapists in private practice don’t pocket all their fees. Overhead costs, licensing fees, taxes and continuing education all need to be covered by their hourly rate.

Most therapists will also limit the number of clients they see at once, so they don’t get overloaded. This means that they aren’t getting paid for every hour of the work day.

Many therapists having sliding scale rates and there’s no shame in asking if an arrangement can be made that will help you meet your therapy needs.

They guard your privacy

Anything you tell your therapist is completely confidential. Even the fact that you are in therapy is guarded by your therapist and unless you tell them otherwise they will not say hello to you if they run into you outside a therapy session. The only instances where a therapist will break confidentiality is if you tell them you are a danger to yourself or a child or elderly person is being harmed.

They know when you don’t need them anymore

Some people benefit from long-term open-ended therapy but for many there is an end-point after making progress and reaching treatment goals. In an ideal treatment scenario, that end-point is planned. Goals are discussed, set up front and monitored throughout. The length of treatment is tailored based on your individual needs.

To find a qualified therapist near you check out our directory.

About Natalie Carrière

Natalie is a bilingual registered psychotherapist with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario and a member of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. She has a master’s degree in counselling and spirituality from Saint Paul University, as well as a master's degree in medical anthropology from the University of Ottawa. Natalie offers a holistic, integrative approach and has experience with anxiety, depression, life transitions, divorce, parenthood and grief, to name a few. She enjoys working with her clients and considers it a privilege to be able to accompany them on their journeys of self discovery and healing.