5 Tips For When You Start Talking to a Therapist

Posted: March 16, 2023 | Author: Kate Lyons | Read Time: 3 minutes

Talking to a therapistRegardless of if you’ve worked with a therapist before, it can be intimidating to tell a professional personal stories, experiences, and thoughts. Don’t worry, this feeling is completely normal. However, for your licensed therapist to help you, being vulnerable with them can give them the information they need to help you. Here are some ways to feel more comfortable working with a therapist.

5 Tips for When You Start Talking to a Therapist

Read Their Professional Biography

Before you start, most offices and organizations will have information about their therapists. Oftentimes, you can find this information by going to the company or organization’s website. They can provide you a photograph of the therapist, their education and years of experience, where they’ve previously worked, and what they specialize in. This will help you determine if they’ll fit you well based on your current needs. And will help you know a little about them, so you’re not facing a stranger.

Journal Before the Session

Having an idea of what you need help with and want to discuss can give your therapist an idea of how they can guide you through your healing process. Journaling before your therapy sessions will let you see what’s most burdensome to you or what you’re not ready to talk about just yet. Write down what you feel comfortable sharing before your session. This will also help you set boundaries with your therapist so they know what subjects to cover and which to address once you’re ready.

Get Some Clarity

You may have questions before you get into therapy itself. It’s a good idea to talk to your therapist about privacy policies and whether or not they can tell others about what you cover in your sessions. Depending on what kind of therapy you’re starting (group, couple, family, etc.), understanding what the sessions will look like will help you to adjust your expectations appropriately.

If you’re using an online app, you’ll probably write messages or use video chat to communicate with your therapist. Gather clarity on what this means – can you message your therapist any time of the day? Or do you have to set an appointment with them? Are they available when you are?

It’s possible you’ve gone the traditional route where you meet in person with your therapist on a scheduled basis. Make sure the frequency of your appointments fits your schedule and mental health needs. Knowing what to expect can help you feel more at ease.

Take Small Steps

Your healing process isn’t a race. Take small steps as you open up to your therapist. It can take a few sessions to get to know each other’s personalities, boundaries, and triggers. Allow yourself time to get to know them and for them to get to know you. However, if you still don’t feel comfortable after several sessions, it’s okay to find another therapist.

Address what you’re going through in small steps as well. Even if you feel like tackling it all at once, your therapist will help you to take it step by step, allowing for a thorough healing process.

Let Your Therapist Take the Lead

If you’re unsure where to start or what to do, let your therapist take the lead. They’ll ask you some questions, maybe ask you to complete a few surveys, to help them see where you’re at and how they can best help you. Remember, you are leaning on them to help you heal, so allow them to do some of the work. They’ll let you know what you need to do. Remember to ask questions or for further guidance when needed. This will also help your therapist better understand your needs and how they can help you.


No matter your reason for seeing a therapist, there are ways you can help yourself when first talking to a therapist. Your healing process may look different from someone else’s for various reasons, so try not to compare. Focus on your journey and how to utilize your therapy to help you feel better.

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, you can visit SUU’s mental health website for online resources and information. SUU provides access to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), Timely Care, TAO Connect, and Togetherall.

Tags: Mental Health Student Life

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