Because it can be hard to know what you want out of therapy, especially if it's the first time, we've broken down this broader question into five smaller ones:
- What made you make an appointment? Your answer to this question can help your therapist understand if you had a traumatic event or have ongoing issues, for example, because these call for different strategies.
- What symptoms do you have? This can help your therapist understand your broader situation so that they can come up with a treatment plan that is best for you.
- What are the top three things that are bothering you right now? Sorting out your core vs. secondary problems is important so that you can work with your therapist on the biggest issues for you at the moment. To figure out which are core and secondary problems, you can try listing out all of them and then thinking about what the effect of resolving each issue would be. Those where the effect of resolving would be bigger will signify that those are most likely your core problems.
- What would success look like? It is useful to think about what a perfect outcome would look like to you and share this with your therapist so that you can talk about how realistic it is, how long it would take to get there, and also agree on goals to set along the way.
- What is helpful or frustrating when talking to friends and family about problems? This can let you know how you like to solve problems. For example, does it drive you crazy when your friend immediately tries to offer a solution before hearing you out completely? Is it helpful when your mom reassures and encourages you in addition to providing real advice and helping you to separate emotions from facts?
These are just a few questions that may hopefully be helpful to you when setting goals and thinking about what you want to get out of therapy - knowing what you hope to get out of therapy and communicating this to your therapist can also create a better relationship with them in addition to allowing your therapist help you better.