As taking care of your mental health becomes more and more normalized, many people are giving therapy a try for the first time. Some people jump right in with a specific concern they wish to discuss. However, others may not necessarily be able to articulate a distinct goal, beyond getting the benefits of therapy and improving their mental wellness.
If you fall into this second category you might be thinking to yourself, what should I even talk about in therapy? Well, the short answer is — anything and everything! But to get more specific, read on for some ideas of where you might begin opening up to your therapist.
Points of stress
Areas in life where you are experiencing frustration or conflict are a useful place to start talking in therapy. Do you feel overworked at your job or do you struggle to get along with your boss or coworkers? Do you feel like you’re at an impasse when it comes to achieving your financial goals, creating artistic work, or deciding on what you want out of the next chapter of your life?
In today’s political climate, current events may be a point of stress. Are you getting overwhelmed by doom scrolling and monitoring the media? Are you feeling anxious or unsafe reflecting on the state of democracy or civil liberties?
Talking about the things that stress you out will help you start to show your therapist your inner emotional world and give insight into what is most important to you in life.
Humans are social creatures, which makes our relationships with one another a very important part of our lives. Research shows that our personality and inner psychology are profoundly shaped by the earliest relationships we experience from birth to 24 months. We continue to be impacted by significant relationships throughout our lifetimes.
How do you feel about your current relationships — friendships, romantic relationships, and relationships with family? What qualities do you think make some of those relationships strong, and what barriers or complications do you see in others?
Do any relationships from your past stand out to you as really leaving a mark, whether negative or positive? Do you find yourself craving particular things from your connections from others that you are not getting or that you hope to seek in the future?
Reflecting on your relationships can really illustrate where you are thriving and where you are struggling — it’s well worth delving into them in therapy.
Here’s a big question — who are you? What words, descriptions, and demographics do you use to describe yourself? How do the different pieces of identity — gender, race, nationality, sexuality, and ability, to name just a few — weave together to make you the person you are?
In your lived experience, what does it mean to be a person of your identity? Do you think your experiences are similar or different to others who use the same identity labels? Do you ever feel like you don’t “fit in” your identity group or feel unsure about exactly how you identify?
Sharing your identity can help you get better in touch with who you are. Having those conversations within the safe, non-judgmental space of therapy may even allow you to discover more about how you identify than you may have previously realized.
Everyone experiences thoughts from time to time that are painful or uncomfortable. If you’ve assumed in the past that you are the only person who goes through this, you may have been reluctant to let other people know what’s really on your mind. Therapy is the perfect place to start exploring those thoughts.
Do you tend to get wrapped up in thinking too much about the future, running through “what ifs” and planning for distant, unlikely scenarios instead of being fully present in the current moment? Are you bogged down with self-criticism and thoughts about being “not good enough” that are extreme when measured alongside your positive qualities and achievements?
Are you unable to stop obsessing over tiny details of things you know don’t really matter? Do you feel like you’re still haunted by something bad that happened in the past, no matter how hard you try to shake it off and move on?
It might feel weird or scary at first to say these things out loud to someone else, but therapists are trained to have exactly these sorts of conversations. Working through your thoughts together might be the beginning of you finding some much needed relief.
You might be surprised by all the topics that come to your mind once you get the conversation rolling with your therapist. If you’d like to get started and really see what therapy is all about, let’s set up a time to chat — I love working with people who are trying therapy for the first time. Click the button below to set up a free phone consultation. I'm looking forward to starting to connect with you.