How to Start Therapy: Common Questions Answered - a pic of lead counselor Haeli Harris on laptop screen

How to Start Therapy: Common Questions Answered

Haeli Harris
April 21, 2021
October 9, 2022

Thinking about starting therapy? Good for you!! You are on the path to getting the mental health support you need.

Naturally, a lot of questions and concerns arise at this point in the journey. How do I find a therapist? What should I expect at my first therapy appointment? What about my privacy? What should I even talk about?

We will be answering all these questions on how to start therapy, and more!  

What are the Types of Therapy?

There are many types of therapy to address all sorts of mental health struggles. It all depends on what you are wanting help with.

Here are some of the most common types of therapy and what challenges they address.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (aka CBT) is all about learning how to manage your thoughts to change attitudes and behaviors. CBT has proven especially effective for people that struggle with anxiety and/or depression—the two most common mental health struggles in the United States. This is the most common form of therapy, and it can apply to nearly any situation—making it a great option for most people.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Related to CBT, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is all about learning how to live in the present moment, cope with stress, manage emotions, and thrive in relationships.

Solution-Focused Therapy

Solution-Focused Therapy focuses on helping a person reach their goals and overcome past experiences. The focus is largely on the future, rather than thoughts and feelings being experienced at the present.

There are many more types of therapy, but these are 3 of the most widely used techniques!

How Do I Find a Therapist?

This is often one of the hardest parts of the process—but there are ways to make it easier for yourself.

If you know which type of therapy you would be comfortable with, narrow down your search to therapists that take that approach.  

How to start therapy—two women in a therapy session

 You can also create a therapy budget to help narrow your options down.  Next, you can start...

  • asking people you trust for therapist recommendations
  • checking therapist listings
  • checking your insurance provider's directory
  • reaching out to your religious organization or other local resources
  • trying out a therapy app

Make a list of a few therapists that may be a good fit.

Then, come up with a handful of questions to ask them to get to know them better. Which therapy approach do they use? What hours are they available? How does a typical session with them work?

You could also go to your employer and suggest they add Nivati to the employee benefits package. With Nivati, it only takes minutes to find a therapist that would be a good fit for you.

What Should I Expect for the First Therapy Appointment?

Going into the appointment, make sure you know what your goals are. Have an idea of what you want to work on.

Here are some examples:

  • Learn how to control my thoughts and worries
  • Grow in self-love
  • Improve my relationship with my spouse, child, friend, parent, myself, etc.
  • Learn how to manage anger
  • Learn how to cope with depression

Your therapist will ask you some questions about why you set an appointment. They will likely provide an open door for you to discuss your goals.

It is normal to feel nervous before your first counseling session. Remember that the therapist is there to help you!

Watch this video on what to expect when starting therapy!  

How Often Should I Meet with My Therapist?

It all depends on the person, their goals, and the circumstances.

For a more severe mental health issue, it is typical to see a therapist once per week. If you are just starting your therapy journey, or have a lot of things to work through, meeting once per week is typical.

Depending on the situation, therapists may have clients transition to coming in every other week, and then about once per month.

Others choose to see a therapist as infrequently as once a year! Therapy can be a great way to check in with your mental health—similar to a physical with your primary care physician.

It is important not to rush through conversations. Let the process happen naturally.

You can discuss appointment frequency with your therapist as well. They can help you determine how often you should set an appointment.

What Should My Relationship with My Therapist Be Like?

Therapy is not a professional interview. It also isn't a casual conversation with a friend.

However, just like any healthy relationship, there should be elements of trust and respect. Good therapeutic relationships open the door to real, deep conversations.

It is normal and expected to slowly open up to your therapist. Just like any relationship, you need to take time to get to know each other!

Once you attend a counseling session or two, you will gain a better idea of what the client-therapist relationship should be like. Your therapist has done this before—they know how to guide you!

Other Tips on How to Start Therapy

Therapy isn't just about talking to someone about your problems—it takes action on your part. Therapy is the most effective when you implement what your therapist tells you to!

After every therapy session, take some time to reflect on what was discussed. Consider journaling your thoughts and the process. Documenting your growth over time can help you remember your progress. Be open to change and accept the process. There will be highs and lows, but eventually, your baseline will gradually improve.

Be honest with your therapist—enable them to help you! Therapists are required by law to keep your conversations confidential. Exceptions, in most cases, would include if the therapist has reason to believe you are putting yourself or someone else in danger. The bottom line: the more honest you are, the more your therapist will be able to help you grow.

Finally, it helps to come to therapy appointments with topics you'd like to discuss. But, if you draw a blank, that is okay too! Oftentimes, something will surface during the conversation that you truly needed to talk about.

Read our blog on therapy misconceptions for more information that may help you on your journey!

Access Therapy Through Nivati

Nivati makes it super easy to find a therapist and get an appointment. Demand for therapy is on the rise, and appointments can be hard to come by. It only takes minutes to book an appointment with a therapist through Nivati!

Nivati has licensed counselors all over the world with a variety of backgrounds.

Interested in getting Nivati at your company? Contact us today!


By participating in/reading the service/website/blog/email series on this website, you acknowledge that this is a personal website/blog and is for informational purposes and should not be seen as mental health care advice. You should consult with a licensed professional before you rely on this website/blog’s information. All things written on this website should not be seen as therapy treatment and should not take place of therapy or any other health care or mental health advice. Always seek the advice of a mental health care professional or physician. The content on this blog is not meant to and does not substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Haeli Harris
Haeli Harris
Haeli Harris, LMFT is the Director of Clinical Operations at Nivati. She has been practicing as a Marriage and Family Therapist since 2014. Haeli has experience working as a therapist in private practice settings, residential facilities, outpatient treatment care, schools, and telehealth.