Coping with life changes, such as the loss of a loved one or a traumatic event
Therapy sessions may cause a person to feel upset or uncomfortable. It is hard to talk about difficult feelings and events. People with phobias may slowly be exposed to their fear. This can cause worry.
What to Expect
Prior to Therapy
The therapist may meet with you to talk about:
The problems that are causing you to seek therapy
The therapy methods that may work best for you
How long and how often you may need therapy sessions
Description of Therapy
You will be asked questions about your background, family, mental health, and the problems you are having. It may take many sessions to find the best method to treat you.
You will be asked about your thoughts and feelings. You will talk about how you react when things happen to you. At first, you may not want to talk so much about yourself. Over time, you will see the benefits.
During your session, you may feel emotional. This is normal. After the session, you may feel tired.
What you talk about is private. There are only a few cases where the therapist must share information with the police such as:
You are going to harm yourself or someone else
You harmed another person such as a child, an elder adult, or someone with a disability
Psychotherapy can also be for you and:
A spouse or partner
How Long Will It Take?
You may have 1 session a week for about an hour. The number of sessions depends on the reason you are there. Short-term therapy may take a month. Some people may need to go for a year or longer.
It takes time and hard work before you start to feel better. Results differ for each person. Most people will see good changes after a few sessions.
You will have homework. This is a way for you to work on the skills that you learned during the sessions.
Call Your Therapist
Call your therapist if the thoughts, feelings, or other problems that led you to seek therapy are coming back or getting worse.
If you have thoughts of hurting yourself or others, call your therapist or emergency medical services right away.
Coffey SF, Banducci AN, Vinci C. Common questions about cognitive behavior therapy for psychiatric disorders. Am Fam Physician. 2015;92(9)807-812.
Individual therapy (psychotherapy). Good Therapy website. Available at: https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/modes/individual-therapy. Accessed November 23, 2020.
Major depressive disorder (MDD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/major-depressive-disorder-mdd. Accessed November 23, 2020.
Psychotherapy for children and adolescents: Definition. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry website. Available at: https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/What-Is-Psychotherapy-For-Children-And-Adolescents-053.aspx. Accessed November 23, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 4/16/2021
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.