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What Do You Talk About In Therapy

Tell Your Therapist About Any Physical Health Issues Or Concerns

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Lets label this one as mandatory. People often make the mistake of separating their mental wellness from their physical wellness, but in many ways, mental health IS physical health. If you suffer from chronic pain, for instance, it can be easy to get into a funk or even slip into despair and depression.

Its so, so common for people to seek therapy for things like depression and anxiety without having any awareness of the possibility that their physical health is directly causing their mental health symptoms. Talk about your lifestyle habits with your therapist things like diet and sleep are profoundly linked not just to the way your body feels but how your mind feels, as well.

The best therapist in the world wont be able to help you feel better emotionally, if the underlying causes of your issues are stemming from your physical health rather than your mental health. Small examples: Did you know that common things like sleep apnea, or using asthma inhalers regularly can essentially mimic the symptoms of ADHD? Or low iron levels can make people feel like they have major depressive disorder?

If you have any ongoing physical health issues and concerns, tell your therapist. They might be contributing to how you think and feel but they might also impact the way your therapist helps you. Dont keep these things to yourself.

Talk About Your Family Of Origin And Significant Life Experiences

This is one of the most classic topics of talk therapy and for a good reason. Everything youve gone through in your life the good, the bad, the challenging has contributed to your personality and the way you handle things today.

Talking about your family of origin as well as some of the hardest things from your past can be profoundly illuminating in understanding more about yourself. As you go over events and memories that you may not regularly say aloud, youll start remembering more. And although talking is not curative by itself, the insight gained from diving deep into your past can help generate new insight and acceptance.

Sometimes people can feel weird or bad about doing this, like talking about difficult parents or loved ones is disloyal. But your therapist is here to help you understand how your life experiences shaped you, in order to help you understand yourself, and others, and grow as a person.

Being honest with yourself about your past and how its shaped you, for better or worse, helps your self development in positive ways, and often results in having more compassion, empathy and appreciation for the people in our lives as well as stronger, healthier relationships.

Focus On The Important Stuff

Youre in therapy to work through your stuff, not to gossip about the colleague you hate at work .

Its important to maintain perspective in therapy.

You arent shooting the breeze with your bestie. Youre working with a medical professional who wants to help you navigate the tricky parts of your inner and outer world.

A good therapist will recognize when youre doing this and try to steer the conversation back to the core problem. If you get off track, let them guide you back.

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What Youre Worried About

Wondering what to talk about in therapy?

Make a list of your worries and bring them in.

We all worry about something, whether its finances, major anxieties about your health or wellness, how other people think about us, the future, etc.

If youre at a loss for what to talk about in therapy, start there.

Not only does voicing your worries make them seem easier to deal with, but your therapist can help you come up with strategies and ways to cope.

The Reason Why You Are There


A good start is addressing what promptedyou to seek therapy now.

Describe the struggles you are facing and how these are impacting your lifepersonally, your relationships, work, and other important areas.

Provide as many details as you feel comfortable sharing, like:

  • Losses or anything else causing you distress
  • Symptoms you have been experiencing
  • How long you have been struggling

This is also an excellent time to discuss your strengths, resources, and supports and how these can have helped you overcome obstacles.

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What To Talk About In Therapy For Anxiety: The Bottom Line

If you’re struggling with anxiety, know that you are not alone. And there is help available. Exposure therapy is an effective form of treatment for anxiety and your therapist will have a specific plan to help you face your anxiety triggers. You don’t need to have a plan for your anxiety counseling sessions-your therapist will help guide the discussion. The most important thing is to be open and honest with your therapist. If you do that, therapy can be a very effective way to reduce your anxiety symptoms.

How You Want To Fix A Problem Thats Holding You Back

Each session, with every one of my patients, our discussion touches on at least one of these topics, and sometimes more. Many people start therapy because they want to fix some problem thats holding them back from their usual level of functioning.

However, after getting back to baseline, they realize that they can still progress closer toward their ultimate human potential, and they continue in therapy longer.

In this way, psychotherapy can be a lifelong endeavor, like exercise or meditation. However, if a person seeks only to use therapy as a means to an endthe relief of a specific symptom or problemthats fine too.

Lydia Angelica Antonatos, LMHC

Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Choosing Therapy

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Any Traumas Or Difficult Experiences Youve Been Through

If youre feeling lost or stuck in therapy, it may be helpful to consider what you want to talk about. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Your therapist should be a blank slatesomeone who doesnt judge you and is there to help you explore whatever is on your mind. That said, it can still be helpful to have an idea of what topics you want to discuss in therapy.

Some things you may want to talk about include the following:

  • Your childhood and upbringing
  • Your current situation and how its impacting your mental health
  • Any traumas or difficult experiences youve been through
  • Your relationships with family and friends
  • Your work life and career goals
  • Any other areas of your life that are causing you stress or anxiety

Remember, there is no wrong way to approach therapy. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable talking about whatever is on your mind. If youre not sure what to talk about, simply tell your therapist how you feel, and they can help guide the conversation.

Naheed Ali, MD, PhD

Physician | Contributor, USA Rx

Talk About What You Have Dreamt About Recently

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This talking point might be a little out there for most of you. Discussing what is going on while we sleep is a viable conversation starter.

Even though our body shuts down to repair when we sleep, our brains are still working away hard, especially if there are stressful events in your life, like anxiety or depression.

Talking through the dreams could help pinpoint areas in your waking life to talk over.

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Common Questions About Therapy

How much is talk therapy?

The cost of therapy varies depending on your location, the kind of therapist you see , and the type of therapy youre looking for . If you have insurance that covers therapy, the cost will depend on the details of your plan.

What are the different types of therapy?

Therapists work with individuals, couples, groups, and families. Therapists use a wide variety of therapy approaches, including CBT, ACT, and trauma-informed therapy. Depending on the issue you need help with, some of these treatments may work better than others.

How can I get the most out of therapy sessions?

Before each session, it can also help to jot down some ideas about things you want to discuss in sessions. Between sessions, try your best to complete any tasks set or recommended by your therapist. For example, they may ask you to practice grounding techniques or keep a thought record.

Never Confess Your Love

Just as professional boundaries prevent therapists from becoming friends with clients, they also prohibit romantic relationships.

Never tell your therapist that you think theyre attractive, or that youd like to take them out. Its just not okay, and your therapist will be incredibly uncomfortable with the situation. They may even have to stop seeing you if you profess your love for them.

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What To Talk About In Therapy Conclusion

I hope these 21 talking points on what to talk about in therapy have helped you find your confidence. Therapy is a fantastic tool that has found itself in an area of guilt, shame and ridicule.

This needs to change, and that change starts with us using our voices to share our stories of how it has helped us.

Use these questions to help you get started, and after time each new therapy session will get easier.

Would you help those who are shy about going to see a therapist?

Leaving a comment below saying that you go to therapy would be a huge help for everyone reading this.


Does Talk Therapy Work


The short answer is yes talk therapy works.

However, the success or effectiveness of psychotherapy relies on your willingness to be open to the process and be honest about what youre feeling. It also depends on the dynamic of the patient-therapist relationship.

Mental health experts support the use of psychotherapy in treating various conditions, and research also supports its use.

A found that CBT is by far the most consistently supported psychotherapeutic option in the treatment of anxiety disorders. This explains why its also the most recommended.

A 2018 study found that early treatments with talk therapy can reduce long-term risks for serious mental health conditions in people experiencing bereavement.

With the increasing popularity of online therapy, or teletherapy, many people wonder if this type of talk therapy is effective.

Results from a 2014 study found that online treatment was just as effective as face-to-face treatment for depression. Another 2014 study reports that online CBT was both cost effective and led to a reduction in anxiety symptoms.

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Why Did You Start Therapy

Opening up to a stranger can put a lot of pressure on many people. If you dont know what to talk about in the first therapy session, you can break the ice by telling the therapist why you started the journey.

Besides helping you open up, your therapist will gain insight into what areas of your life need the most attention.

How Long Does Therapy Last

Everyone’s treatment is different. How long your therapy lasts depends on many factors. You may have complicated issues, or a relatively straightforward problem that you want to address. Some therapy treatment types are short term, while others may last longer. Practically, your insurance coverage might limit you.

However, discussing the length of therapy is important to bring up with your therapist at the beginning. This will give you an idea of goals to work towards and what you want to accomplish. Don’t be afraid to revisit this issue at any time as therapy progresses, since goals often are modified or changed during treatment.

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Dont Say That You Want To Be Friends

Therapists must maintain professional boundaries with their clients. While you are likely to develop a close working relationship with your therapist, the two of you cannot be friends.

Do not discuss meeting up for coffee or developing a relationship outside of your therapy sessions this will just create a difficult situation for your therapist, and detract from your work together.

Remember: You Are In Charge Of Your Experience With Therapy

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Always remember that you are the expert on your own life and in charge of your experience with therapy. You get to be in the drivers seat and make decisions about what you talk about and what issues are off-limits for the time being.

Your therapist may give you a push, but ultimately, it is up to you to determine what you want to talk about. Listen to yourself and talk about what feels right to you when you are ready.

Jordan Brown, MS, LPC, NCC

Licensed Professional Counselor, No Worries Wellness

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How To Talk To Your Therapist About You

You and your personal growth is the most obvious main topic of therapy, but that can actually also be why its the hardest at times. While some people find it effortless to talk about and analyze themselves, other people find it far more difficult and can shut down before progress is made.

Also, just FYI, if you feel like you dont have space to talk about yourself that is a major red flag. I had a conversation with a colleague the other week who had a new client who came to us after experimenting with one of those therapy-mill online therapy outfits , and my colleague told me that the client said, With the last therapy I tried, I wound up knowing way more about that therapist and her life than she knew about mine. That is not okay!

The mental health field can attract people who have their own stuff to work through. If your therapist is sharing way TMI about their own life, or their opinions, that is not fair to you. Therapy is your place to talk about you, not smile and nod politely and try to get a word in edgewise. More on how to find a therapist, and avoid a bad one if youre interested.

So, assuming that there is space for you to talk about yourself in therapy, lets turn our attention to some of the most helpful and productive things you can talk about with your therapist.

In this next section, Ill provide some helpful tips with simple things you can begin talking about that will help your therapist understand your inner life.

Talk About Your Jealousy

Everyone experiences jealousy at times, but life isnt fun when you feel like you are constantly preoccupied with anyone elses life but your own. Therapy can help you identify your triggers and habits, so you can start building new ones that will become the foundation for building the life you love.

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What Is The Biggest Problem Youre Currently Facing

Problems can vary in scale, and what seems like one large problem may be a variety of smaller issues that are affecting your thoughts, feelings and behavior.

Your therapist might ask you to define the major problems youre facing. Identifying the specific problems that are troubling you can help you to prepare a treatment plan that includes methods for coping, learning and making progress.

Focus On Underlying Themes

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One of my favorite therapist acronyms is COW, which stands for crisis of the week. So a therapist might write in their progress note, Focused on COW related to not wanting to go to a work function, as well as underlying theme of imposter syndrome.

If youre the client in that note, a week when you dont have very much to say is an excellent opportunity to do a deep dive into your imposter syndrome. When did you first notice this? Can you remember a time in your childhood or adolescence when someone told you that youre not good enough? What fuels your fear that youre just faking it?

If youre mentally spinning on a COW, you dont really have the capacity to consider the broader context. Therapy sessions without a crisis are a great opportunity to zoom out and gain more insight.

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Unresolved Issues From The Past

Things that happened in the past dont always stay in the past. Instead, many continue to have an impact on your present thoughts, feelings, and choices. Therapy is the perfect place to revisit earlier experiences, interactions, and issues that feel unresolved. These topics could include:

  • Early childhood memories or traumas
  • Family conflicts or problems that affected your childhood
  • Roles or expectations you assumed early in life
  • Feelings of resentment, anger, or sadness towards someone/something in the past
  • Inner conflicts that arose in you as a result of certain life experiences

With the help of a trained therapist, its often possible to gain new insight and perspectives that help you feel more at peace with these parts of your story. When there are difficult or painful emotions attached to these memories, a therapist can devote time to teaching new, healthier ways to cope.

Whatever Is In Your Heart

There is no right or wrong answer to what you should talk about in therapy. Although it can be scary, sharing what you are struggling with and what is in your heart is beneficial.

If you sit there silently and dont share, we cant help you problem-solve.

You can share about your:

  • Excessive use of your cell phone
  • Lack of desire to go out

Whatever is on your mind and affects youat work, home, or schooland it messes with your ability to enjoy life, share it.

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