Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Preparing for therapy

A question for those of you who stop by here - well two questions :)
1) Do you "prepare" for therapy?
2) If so, what do you do?

Sometimes I go in cold without even thinking about it during the day. These are usually busy days at work. Funny - sometimes these sessions seem worthless because there is not much to talk about (and then I feel guilty somehow). Other times, these unrehearsed sessions yield good discussions.

Sometimes, I go over what I might have jotted down from the previous week (here or in my private journal) and write down a few topics. It usually takes me awhile to ease into my list. But eventually I do and I feel like I've accomplished something at the end.

On the weeks when I don't go in with a list - I usually ask my T what she would like to talk about and whether she has anything on her list. Without fail, she always defers back to me. I find this frustrating. We have been meeting for about a year and a half. Surely some things have come up that she would like to go into deeper. But that makes it her agenda and not mine.

So - speak up. How does it work for you? And therapists out there - do your patients have lists? Do you ever bring up the topics or do you always defer to the patient?

Oh - and a follow up. Last week - I discussed nearly everything in my previous post and cleared up some things. The boundary issues are raw now with my friend next door. For now, I will try to work through those.

And - I like my therapist. My venting here is more about the relationship and not so much about her.


  1. I wrote about it here:


  2. I start preparing from the second I walk out the door from the previous session! But as the 7 days go on until the next session my thoughts evolve; every day I think of something new or different to talk to him about. Then the day comes and I have nothing to talk about. Actually I have tons to talk about, but nothing I feel comfortable talking about. I don't think I've ever talked about what I really NEED to talk about. I'm hoping the day will come when I can do that.

  3. Well I went with an agenda today! I usually have a number of things I want to look at but can never decide, but today I knew exactly what I wanted ...

    Clients vary. Some always struggle to begin sessions, others start talking the moment they walk in the door.

  4. Paul - I remember reading your post at the time. Great post. I am usually rushing out of work to get to the office. I do some thinking in the car. It would be ideal if I would jot down things immediately after, but I don't always take the time.

    Harriet - You and I share some traits :) On my way to the office yesterday, I had this great conversation in my head. But I honestly could not even remember some of the things once I got in the office. On some level - I think I clam up because I don't want to disclose something that I find embarassing or would make her think less of me. In reality, sitting there without anything to discuss except for how slowly the time is passing probably does little to endear me to her. :(

    Samesky - Good for you with the agenda. I should write down or type up what I think we should talk about. I do wish she would jump in more. I did bring that up yesterday - she insists that would make it her agenda and not what I might want to talk about.

  5. From a therapist side,

    usually if a session goes as the client planned or expected then what is achieved is less.

    I am quite willing to suggests a topic to a client if it is relevent in the context of what has been going on. What the client does not talk about is sometimes just as important as what they do talk about.


  6. Oh yes,

    On your "My blogs list" you have my old blog.



  7. Tony -
    "usually if a session goes as the client planned or expected then what is achieved is less."

    Interesting perspective Tony - I guess this means things never quite live up to the expectation.

    I've been giving my own situation some thought. I think I need her to challenge me more.

    "What the client does not talk about is sometimes just as important as what they do talk about."

    Agree completely with this - but at some point I would think it is the "job" of the therapist to point that out in session.

    Take care,

  8. I don't prepare unless my T has given me homework which I will try to do although not always successfully.

    I drive 1.5 hours one way to see my T and I spend the whole drive thinking what to talk about. But I step into her office and all my thoughts fly out the window for some reason.

    Then I spend the trip home thinking about what I should have said and what I should say next time. It can be an exhausting process.

    But of course as Harriet has said it keeps evolving as the week goes on.

    At least when she gives me homework or reading material it gives me something concrete to focus for the next session.

  9. Hello OLJ,

    I see it as you say, that it is my job to at times point out something that may be being avoided by the client. I would say that I would do that regularly.

    Regarding what is expected by the client during a session I think I am saying something a little different than you say. My perspective is that all clients will enter a session in a state of ambivalence. Part of them wants to change and part does not. The part that doesn't sets about sabotaging things, so if things go as planned then part of the plan will be self defeating.



  10. inamaze - Thanks for stopping by. I think I am going to come up with a list of topics that T can pull out when we come to a standstill. I know what you mean about going blank in session - had some great things planned last week, but couldn't think of most of them once I arrived.

    Take care.

  11. Tony - I think I get what you are saying. The client isn't always aware of their ambilence and so the sabotage isn't on purpose? At least not all of the times.

    I will give this some thought as it applies to me. And I am going to challenge my T to challenge me.


  12. Hmm, just noticed you have my old blog address on your blogroll too, rather than the new one!

  13. OK - samesky and Tony - I *think* I have updated my blog to your new addresses. Please let me know if I still have it wrong.