How Does Therapy Work?

Written by Nicole Laoutaris
Last updated on: Mar 25, 2024

Therapy is about working with a professional who can provide insight into challenges and obstacles you’re facing, and guidance to help you navigate your feelings, thought processes, and your behaviours. Their long term aim will be for you to develop the necessary skills to manage your mental wellbeing on your own for a more fulfilling life.

Before you get started

Whether your needs seem big or small, the reality is that everyone can benefit from talking to a trained professional. The process starts with you.

Think about the reasons you’re seeking someone to talk to. Try writing two or three of them down. This could help you start your search for a therapist and better identify specializations or techniques that may work for you. 

Many people consider therapy because they just feel off and they’re not sure why. That’s okay too. 

We know that the majority of First Session visitors are seeking help for anxiety, depression, or self esteem. Generally, all trained therapists will be able to work on those areas with you. Specializations become more important when finding someone who works with a particular community of people, treating and processing trauma, or working through abuse or addiction. 

In some cases, a therapist works alongside a doctor or a psychiatrist as one member of someone’s healthcare team.

Your therapist’s role

It’s important that this person understands you, operates with an approach that feels right to you and that you feel comfortable with this person. 

It’s your therapist’s job to remain non-judgemental, set and respect clear boundaries, guide the conversation and maintain confidentiality. 

You can always say “no” if the conversation is going somewhere you don’t want it to, or if you disagree with their interpretation of something you’ve said.

Keep in mind, honesty and a non-judgemental atmosphere can’t be forced. They will emerge naturally if you and your therapist are a good fit.

I think I spoke to 8 different therapists before finding my current therapist (who is great!). I knew she was the right fit for me during my second session. She referred back to things that we spoke about in the previous session, and it was clear to me that she was really listening to me and understanding everything I had said to come to the second session prepared. We’re both women, and she is similar in age and ethnicity to me. We can also laugh with each other, which I really appreciate. 
- “Brittany”, First Session client

We’ll talk more about finding a therapist and therapist fit in the next section

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About the Author

Nicole Laoutaris

Nicole Laoutaris is a freelance writer and adult learning professional based in the Greater Toronto Area. She specializes in educational content for brands and companies in industries such as mental health, pet health, lifestyle and wellness, cannabis, and personal finance. Nicole holds a double undergraduate degree in Communications and Film studies from Wilfrid Laurier University, and post-graduate certificate in Corporate Communications from Seneca College. She currently lives in Hamilton Ontario with her spouse and her cat.