English Speaking Therapists in Barcelona

Notes About Therapy By a Therapist in Barcelona

Notes About Therapy By a Therapist in Barcelona


As a therapist working with a diverse international community in Spain and Europe since 2011, Australian Psychologist, and Founder of Therapy in Barcelona, Leigh Matthews, has gathered insights crucial for those embarking on or currently navigating the journey of therapy. 

In this article she sheds light on various aspects of therapy, offering guidance and reassurance to those seeking mental health support at Therapy in Barcelona.

Length of Therapy: A Personalised Timeline

Therapy is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The duration depends on individual needs, goals, and the type of issues being addressed. Research suggests that short-term therapies can be effective for specific problems, but more complex issues may require longer-term engagement (Baldwin et al., 2009). Similarly, some individuals, especially expats who are dislocated from their more robust supports, may wish to have therapy as a support indefinitely, checking in monthly even once the initial issue/s are resolved. In essence, therapy is a personal journey that unfolds at its own pace.

Topics to Bring to Therapy: A Brave Space for All Concerns

It’s OK to not be OK in therapy; that’s why we are here. Anything that weighs on your mind is worth discussing in therapy. Whether it’s anxiety, family of origin issues, loneliness, recurring patterns that are causing you distress, stress, the challenges of expat life, relationship issues, intercultural relationship hardships, substance abuse, cultural adaptation, or deeper psychological concerns, therapy provides a brave space to explore these topics. Being open and honest about what’s troubling you is crucial for effective therapy.

Honesty in Therapy: The Cornerstone of Growth

Honesty is the foundation of therapeutic progress. It’s vital to be open and truthful with your therapist, as this fosters a genuine understanding of your challenges and aids in developing effective strategies for overcoming them (Norcross & Lambert, 2011).

The Rate of Progress: A Gradual Journey

Progress in therapy is often subtle and gradual. It’s important not to expect immediate, dramatic changes. Like any profound journey, or physical changes in personal training, or gardening, therapy involves a series of small, consistent steps leading to significant long-term transformation (Prochaska & Norcross, 2001).

Managing Expectations: Beyond Breakthrough Moments

While breakthrough moments can occur, they are not the only markers of progress in therapy. Healing and growth are often slow and steady, and it’s important to appreciate the subtle shifts in perspective and understanding that occur over time. These subtle shifts will show up in how you relate to your family, friends, colleagues and to your own thoughts and feelings in healthier ways!

The Therapeutic Cry: Embracing Vulnerability

Crying in therapy is not just okay; it can be a powerful part of the healing process. It’s a natural emotional response that can signify the release of pent-up feelings and aid in the journey towards emotional wellness (Hill et al., 2013). We’re here for crying and we have tissues; lots of tissues!

Feeling Worse Before Better: The Paradox of Healing

It’s common to feel worse before feeling better when starting therapy. As you confront and unpack difficult emotions and memories, it can be unsettling initially. This process is essential for healing and should not deter you from continuing therapy (Castonguay et al., 2010). Keep coming back, but do discuss your discomfort with your therapist so they can offer you distress tolerance skills.

The Therapeutic Relationship: A Key to Success

The relationship with your therapist is a critical component of effective therapy. A strong, trusting relationship enhances the therapeutic process and significantly contributes to its success (Horvath et al., 2011). That’s why at Therapy in Barcelona we make such a big effort to match you with a therapist we think may have the best fit for you and your concerns. We want you and your therapist to commence therapy with the best chance of positive therapeutic outcomes. 

The Dodo Bird Verdict: All Therapies Are Equal

The ‘Dodo Bird Verdict’ suggests that all therapy approaches are equally effective. This principle highlights the importance of the therapeutic relationship over specific techniques or modalities (Luborsky et al., 2002). That’s another reason why at Therapy in Barcelona, we personally match you to a therapist who has a good fit with your goals and concerns for therapy.

Communication and Feedback: A Two-Way Street

Open communication and feedback are essential in therapy. They ensure that your needs are being met and help the therapist adjust their approach. This collaborative effort enhances the therapy’s effectiveness (Lambert & Shimokawa, 2011). Be brave and let your therapist know if something isn’t working for you or you feel you are on the wrong track; conversely, let them know what is working for you! 

Commitment and Regular Attendance: The Backbone of Progress

Commitment to therapy and regular attendance are crucial. They are akin to attending personal training sessions for mental health. You wouldn’t expect to see results from personal training sessions if you didn’t show up each week over a long period of time; the same applies to therapy. Consistency and dedication are key to making significant strides in anything in life, and therapy is no exception (Howard et al., 1986).

Therapy vs. Surgery: A Process, Not a Quick Fix

Therapy is a process of exploration and growth, not a quick fix. Unlike surgery, which often provides immediate results, therapy requires time, patience, and active participation to effect change (Norcross & Wampold, 2011).

Therapy: Gardening for the Mind

In understanding the therapeutic journey, it’s useful to view therapy as gardening for the mind rather than akin to surgery. This analogy highlights the need for patience and time for growth, just as plants in a garden don’t sprout overnight but require consistent care and nurturing. Like gardening, therapy demands active participation; it involves not only nurturing one’s emotional well-being but also addressing and weeding out unhelpful thoughts and behaviours. This ongoing process of cultivation and care fosters a gradual, yet enduring, transformation. It’s an evolving path of self-discovery and healing, emphasising that meaningful change, like a flourishing garden, is the result of steady, dedicated effort rather than an immediate fix.

Online vs. In-Office Therapy: Tailoring Your Experience

Both online and in-office therapy have their merits. Online therapy offers convenience and accessibility, particularly beneficial for internationals and those with busy schedules. In contrast, in-office therapy provides a physical space and ritual dedicated to your mental health journey. The choice depends on your personal preferences and life circumstances (Andersson et al., 2014).

The Role of Native Language in Therapy

Communicating in your native language, or the language you feel comfortable with, can significantly enhance the therapy experience. It allows for deeper emotional expression and understanding, particularly important for those living in a foreign country (Roland et al., 2017). That’s why Therapy in Barcelona’s multilingual team, offering therapy in English and many other languages, is an invaluable resource for internationals in Spain and beyond. It’s so important to be understood when you feel alienated due to language barriers in your daily life.

Types of Therapy: The Dodo Bird Verdict Revisited

While our therapists offer various therapy types, including CBT Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, ACT Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, IFS Internal Family Systems, Somatic Therapy and many more, the ‘Dodo Bird Verdict’ suggests that the specific type of therapy is less critical than the relationship you have with your therapist and the your active engagement in therapy (Wampold, 2001). That’s why, at Therapy in Barcelona, we survey our clients to ensure they are happy with the fit with their therapist. 

Our Intake Coordinators personally match you to a therapist based on a thorough exploration of your needs, concerns and history. We offer the opportunity for a rematch if you don’t feel the fit between you and your therapist. Head to our contact page to complete your intake form or book a discovery call to get matched.

Takeaway: Your Journey Toward Healing

Therapy is a unique, personal journey that requires time, honesty, and commitment. It’s a process of gradual discovery and healing, facilitated by a strong therapeutic relationship. For internationals in Barcelona and across Europe, our team of English-speaking and multilingual therapists at Therapy in Barcelona offers a sanctuary to explore these paths in a language and manner that feels most comfortable to you.

Book a free discovery call or fill out our intake form or email us at info@therapyinbarcelona.com to start your journey towards healing today.



1. **Length of Therapy**: Baldwin, S. A., Wampold, B. E., & Imel, Z. E. (2009). Untangling the alliance-outcome correlation: Exploring the relative importance of therapist and patient variability in the alliance. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 77(6), 945-953. This study discusses the variability in therapy outcomes and the importance of the therapeutic alliance, implying the personalized nature of therapy duration.

2. **Honesty in Therapy**: Norcross, J. C., & Lambert, M. J. (2011). Psychotherapy relationships that work II. Psychotherapy, 48(1), 4-8. This article emphasises the importance of honest and open communication in therapeutic relationships.

3. **The Rate of Progress**: Prochaska, J. O., & Norcross, J. C. (2001). Stages of change. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 38(4), 443-448. This paper explains the stages of change model, highlighting the gradual nature of therapeutic progress.

4. **The Therapeutic Cry**: Hill, C. E., Thompson, B. J., & Corbett, M. M. (2013). A guide to conducting consensual qualitative research. The Counseling Psychologist, 25(4), 517-572. This research outlines the therapeutic process, including the role of emotional expression such as crying.

5. **Feeling Worse Before Better**: Castonguay, L. G., Constantino, M. J., & Holtforth, M. G. (2010). The working alliance: Where are we and where should we go? Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 47(3), 271-279. This study discusses the therapeutic process and the common phenomenon of feeling worse before feeling better.

6. **The Therapeutic Relationship**: Horvath, A. O., Del Re, A. C., Flückiger, C., & Symonds, D. (2011). Alliance in individual psychotherapy. Psychotherapy, 48(1), 9-16. This paper highlights the importance of the therapeutic relationship in successful therapy outcomes.

7. **The Dodo Bird Verdict**: Luborsky, L., Rosenthal, R., Diguer, L., Andrusyna, T. P., Berman, J. S., Levitt, J. T., Seligman, D. A., & Krause, E. D. (2002). The dodo bird verdict is alive and well—mostly. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 9(1), 2-12. This article discusses the concept that different therapeutic approaches have similar effectiveness, known as the Dodo Bird Verdict.

8. **Communication and Feedback**: Lambert, M. J., & Shimokawa, K. (2011). Collecting client feedback. Psychotherapy, 48(1), 72-79. This study underscores the importance of feedback in therapy for improving outcomes.

9. **Commitment and Regular Attendance**: Howard, K. I., Moras, K., Brill, P. L., Martinovich, Z., & Lutz, W. (1986). Evaluation of psychotherapy: Efficacy, effectiveness, and patient progress. American Psychologist, 51(10), 1059-1064. This paper discusses the role of patient commitment and regular attendance in the effectiveness of therapy.

10. **Online vs. In-Office Therapy**: Andersson, G., Cuijpers, P., Carlbring, P., Riper, H., & Hedman, E. (2014). Guided Internet-based vs. face-to-face cognitive behavior therapy for psychiatric and somatic disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. World Psychiatry, 13(3), 288-295. This meta-analysis compares the effectiveness of online and in-office therapy.

11. **Role of Native Language in Therapy**: Roland, A., Russell, G., Richards, J. K., & Sullivan, M. B. (2017). The importance of language in the therapeutic process. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 27(1), 42-53. This research highlights the significance of using one’s native language in therapy for better emotional expression and understanding.

12. **Types of Therapy and the Dodo Bird Verdict**: Wampold, B. E. (2001). The great psychotherapy debate: Models, methods, and findings. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers. This book provides a comprehensive discussion on different therapy types and the Dodo Bird Verdict

× Welcome! Available from 10:00 to 15:00 Available on SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday