Many events and experiences take place within the therapy session. New transformative experiences, insights, and “ah-ha” moments often occur. Sometimes, the session becomes a moment in time when my client can just shed all the masks and find relief from the stress it costs to wear them. Psychotherapy is a deeply dynamic and personal experience in which the therapist and client engage each other in a spiritual journey together. Psychotherapy can be emotionally uncomfortable at times and requires the courage to be challenged in different ways. Negative beliefs about the world and your place in it, are open arenas for discussion and exploration.
Therapy is not easy work. The activities that take place within a session typically vary with client goals and needs. Clients develop a treatment plan with the therapist to address the issues that brought them to treatment. A typical session starts with a brief check-in and review of the prior week. Then, the session proceeds to working on a specific issue identified during check-in and homework review. The work may involve processing something with the therapist directly or reviewing/learning new skills. The therapist may spend part of the session teaching specific mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation or interpersonal effectiveness skills that the client can use to manage various problems. The client may role play these skills during session with the therapist and practice them for homework. Session time is also used to connect, validate and process the weekly or past intrusions and learn how to deal with them in a healthy way.
A typical therapy session lasts 45 minutes and occurs on a weekly basis. However, sessions can be longer and more frequent depending on the work being done in session. Typically, trauma work is done in longer more frequent sessions. People who need extra help with interpersonal skills often need additional group sessions. It is important that the client takes time between sessions to practice skills and to reflect on the content of the session. For therapy to “work,” the client must be an active participant inside and outside the session.