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What Does the Therapy Process Look Like?

What Does the Therapy Process Look Like?

At Therapy in Barcelona, we, in the words of Irvin Yalom, the Grandfather of Psychotherapy: “create a new therapy for each client”. Meaning, the unique relationship with your therapist and the uniqueness of you and your concerns, will guide the way we approach things and the tools we bring to bear in our sessions. We tailor-make the therapy to fit each client. However, we can offer you a kind of rough road map for what to expect of the therapy journey. 

Therapy can help you to reset your priorities and get you back on track towards a healthier and happier life. Making the decision to prioritise yourself for an hour a week to address stress, anxiety, relationship issues, depressionparenting and so on, is the first step towards finding balance in your life. Whether you are coming in alone, or with your child or adolescent, family or for couples’ counselling, we are here to help you to grow or move through a tough patch in life. 

Therapy can help you develop a new relationship to thoughts, feelings, situations and people that are of concern in your life. You will learn new ways to approach thoughts, situations and, relationships to help you feel more balanced and in control of your life. 

You and your therapist will start with meeting together weekly for 50-minute sessions. You will get the most benefit from therapy when you make an 8-week commitment to attending weekly sessions. It has been found that when therapy is done less frequently in the initial stages, it takes longer to make and sustain positive progress. The concerns that led you to seek therapy at this point of your life likely developed over a long period of time. This may include thought patterns, ways of interacting with others, unhelpful habits, and the basic foundation for your day-to-day life.  As it took a long period of time for your struggles to reach this level, so it will also take time and effort to address these in ways that can be life-changing and sustainable.  

After you have reached a strong foundation in treatment, you and your therapist can discuss decreasing sessions to biweekly, monthly or looking towards a successful termination process. In the initial process, we encourage you to explore what successful completion would look like to you. Please try to think in specifics; are there changes in routines, ways of thinking, or ways of responding to others that would look different to you than they currently do now? These are important elements to include in your treatment plan and they give us a foundation for a roadmap to a healthier you. This guides us and helps keep us aligned with your goals and needs to ensure you get the most out of your therapy experience. 

GETTING STARTED WITH THERAPY:

YOUR SESSION BY SESSION BREAKDOWN 
Prior to Your First Session:

We ask all new adult and couple clients to complete an intake questionnaire which you can find here. You can find our intake questionnaire for adolescents and kids here. Completing your intake information in a timely manner gives our Intake Coordinator the opportunity to help match you to a therapist with the experience and training relevant to your concerns. It also gives your therapist a chance to review your information and better prepare for your first appointment. Completion of intake information has been found to be an indicator of readiness for treatment. 

SESSION 1:

This will be your official intake appointment. This session includes reviewing factors that led you into therapy, in addition to beginning to structure the therapy relationship, and discussing the details of informed consent in therapy. 

Your therapist will explore your past/current family history, medical/mental health struggles, and current supports or stressors in your life. This allows you to set goals and objectives for treatment and to begin clarifying what you want to gain from therapy. 

SESSION 2-4: 

In your next few sessions, you will work with your therapist to explore your current coping skills and focus on enhancing them. You may identify coping strategies that have been unhealthy or discover a general lack of available resources and skills. It is normal during this early part of treatment to be guarded and unsure about the therapy process. You are sharing intimate information with an unknown person, and it is healthy to not dive deep into all of your dark places right off the bat. Please keep in mind that it can often take 4-5 sessions to really start feeling like you have developed a strong connection and shared understanding with your therapist. Hang in there, it gets easier. The challenging path towards vulnerability is needed to make and sustain real change. You do not want to move too fast on this road, as it is important to absorb the scenery and be able to identify problematic road conditions as you are approaching them.  This is one of the main reasons we encourage weekly sessions in the beginning. It allows you to develop that relationship faster and move quicker through background and assessment material. We have found that people are more likely to follow through and finish therapy successfully when they make this early commitment.  

SESSIONS 5+:

After a comfortable foundation has been laid between you and your therapist and you have been able to identify not only the factors leading to your current distress but the patterns and behaviours that reinforce it, then the real work begins. You will start to analyse and disassemble some of your less helpful ways of coping, which may allow you to start making significant changes in the ways you think, act, and respond to your real-life struggles. Remember, you are fully in charge of this process. Your therapist is there to guide and teach, to support and encourage, to share wisdom and strength; not to make the decisions for you or to fix the problem leading you into therapy. Having that as an expectation will make you frustrated and disappointed. There is a lot of work involved in the therapy process that happens between appointments. There are skills to learn, communication methods to practice, boundaries to set, deep insights to reflect on, and lifelong patterns that can be changed but do so one real action at a time.  

THE WIND-DOWN PROCESS:

At Therapy in Barcelona,  we believe that the ultimate goal of therapy is to get to the point where you do not need to come in anymore. This is because you feel better and have met the goals you initially started treatment for, as well as any other goals that may have developed as you moved forward. We see it as our mission to work ourselves out of a job by empowering you to manage the challenges, triggers, and daily trials that you may experience in healthy and adaptive ways. We work to support you in learning the tools and skills to balance the thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations that may have been causing issues for you. Through the process, you will likely step down from a weekly frequency as you practice these new skills in your natural environment and see a corresponding decrease in presenting issues and symptoms. This can vary from every 2 weeks down to every 6 weeks depending on your comfort level and needs. This will be discussed and decided between you and your therapist and can be flexible if your needs and circumstances change.  

ENDING THE THERAPY PROCESS:

If the ultimate goal of therapy is successful ending with goals met, so there will be an eventual process of deciding when you have reached the best time to exit therapy. This is an accomplishment and like a graduation of sorts. It is to be celebrated, but we have found that for many the idea of closing can be difficult. The support you get in therapy is different from other areas of your life and is at times hard to let go of. We will be there to help prepare you for this shift and connect you to natural supports in your life that can help meet this need in a much less formal way. Your last one or two sessions will focus on reinforcing your gains and helping you develop a follow-up plan for maintaining your growth after the completion of the formal treatment process. 

“TUNE-UP” SESSIONS:

In the therapy process, we sometimes need check-in sessions after the completion of the official treatment process. This is not unusual and is not a failure in treatment. It is much like the process of taking a car or moto in for a yearly tune-up or oil change to address the normal wear and tear it acquires by driving. As you will already have established a therapeutic alliance with your therapist as well as developed tools and skills through your previous treatment process, this can simply be a pit stop to keep everything aligned and running smoothly, and may only last two to three sessions. 

LONG TERM THERAPY:

In our demographic of expat or globally mobile clients, we do see people for long term therapy. Therapy becomes a touchstone, a known place for reflection, as people make significant transitions when moving countries or living in a foreign country without their usual support networks. Life is a constant journey of navigation, decisions, and change. In this context, once we go beyond the initial treatment of concrete concerns, therapy is not about meeting goals per se, but diving deep in to the “Four Givens” or, four major concerns of life: mortality, meaning, and isolation, and freedom. Isolation refers to creating our own world and being solitary in that. In longer-term therapy, your therapist can walk alongside you in your life tasks as a sounding board, support, mentor, or guide.

We look forward to the opportunity to work with you.

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