Mental Health Therapy

If you are struggling with depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts, or if you are concerned about your mental health, seeing a therapist can be a wonderful option to help you.

Each therapist and mental health organization may have different therapy processes and types, but the following is a general overview of how individual therapy can go, whether it is in person or online.

The First Appointment

According to Mental Health America, it can be helpful to consider your first therapy session as a consultation between you and your therapist to decide if you mesh well with one another. As a result, the first appointment is generally a bit longer than subsequent appointments. It is normal to be nervous about the first session, but it is helpful to be as calm as possible.

Your therapist will be interested in learning about why you are interested in therapy and what your goals are. The therapist may also describe how they conduct sessions or discuss possible treatment options with you.

The first appointment is a great opportunity for you to ask questions. For example, you could ask your therapist about their methods or their experience working with clients like you.

Depending on the mental health organization, the first appointment may consist of an intake process where you fill out paperwork, or you may already have had the intake process completed before being assigned a therapist. The intake paperwork and first session both help the therapist diagnose and treat your mental health concern.

Your Therapy Journey

If you and your therapist have determined that you are a good fit for one another, you can schedule regular appointments with your therapist. Your therapist will help you determine plans to meet your treatment goals. For example, you may need to learn coping skills for stressful situations or work on managing your emotions in healthy ways.

High-quality therapy is a patient-centered process. Your therapist should allow you to make your treatment goals while suggesting methods that could help you to meet them. Your therapist’s role is to be a partner with you on your journey.

Throughout your time in therapy, you will be building a trusting relationship with your therapist. At first, you may feel like you do not know your therapist very well, but with regular appointments, you will get more comfortable.

In each therapy appointment, do not feel pressured to talk about a topic if you are uncomfortable doing so. You can let your therapist know that you are not yet ready to discuss the topic. With time, you may be able to discuss the topic when you have more trust with your therapist.

Do not feel discouraged if you leave a therapy session feeling angry or upset. Depending on what you are working on during therapy, you may confront difficult thoughts or memories. However, this can still help you improve your mental health in the long run.

If your therapist gives you homework, doing it will further help you on your mental health journey. The homework could include activities like writing about your emotions, doing something to get out of your comfort zone or trying a new method of dealing with stress. If you are not comfortable with a homework assignment, let your therapist know so adjustments can be made.

How Long Will My Therapy Journey Last?

The therapy journey is different for everyone. You may only need a few appointments, or you may want to see a therapist for months or years.

It is also important to note that therapy may only be one component in your journey to improve your mental health. Depending on your circumstances, you may benefit from changing your lifestyle, attending group therapy or a support group, or taking medication. Your therapist can refer you to groups, a psychiatric provider or other resources to help you if needed.

What if I am Unhappy with My Therapist?

Every therapy experience is different, and it is possible you could have a negative experience with your therapist. It is OK to let your therapist know if you disagree with something they say or with part of the treatment plan.

Generally, it is recommended to try a therapist for a few appointments and then think about whether you would like to continue with that therapist. You do not have to stay with the same therapist for your entire time in therapy. If you are uncomfortable with your therapist, you can find another one.

UofL Health – Peace Hospital is Here for You

UofL Health – Peace Hospital offers no-charge, level-of-care assessments for children, adolescents, adults and families. For more information, call 502-451-3333 in the Louisville area or 859-313-3515 in the central and eastern Kentucky area.

Additionally, PeaceNow is a telebehavioral health clinic collaboration between Peace Hospital and UofL Health – UofL Physicians. PeaceNow has a goal of providing a convenient way for patients to access UofL Health behavioral health services. For questions about PeaceNow, call 502-588-6449.

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Lisa Prewitt

Lisa Prewitt, M.Ed., is the director of behavioral health outreach at UofL Health – Peace Hospital. She holds a master’s degree in counseling and personnel services from the University of Louisville. Lisa has more than 20 years of experience working with children, adolescents and adults struggling with mental health and substance use disorders. She is also a licensed professional counseling associate and a certified Grief Recovery Method® specialist. Lisa has been with Peace Hospital since 2012.

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