What do people talk about in therapy?


People have different ideas about what goes on in therapy, including what topics are appropriate. If you've ever wondered what kinds of things are OK to talk about in therapy, this article is for you.

Pretty often I meet people who are new to therapy and ask me what things are OK to talk about in their sessions. There are a lot of stereotypes about therapy and people just want to know that what’s on their own mind is OK. Some people expect therapy to be “sitting around and talking about your feelings” and others think that therapy is only about “the big stuff.” Therapy can sometimes be either of these things and sometimes neither. 

Most people are familiar with the traditional parts of therapy that address mental health diagnosis and symptoms. People who struggle with symptoms of depression, anxiety, trauma, and other terms labeled as disorders are aware that their experience is welcome in therapy. Therapy absolutely can address these parts of the human experience but it is not true that a person must have a disorder to benefit from therapy. So what else is there?

People bring a variety of topics into therapy and a good therapist will make space for whatever the client needs. With the stress and pressure that is building in today’s world it is very common for intelligent people to seek therapy to find ways to manage this experience. Otherwise well-adjusted individuals may seek therapy to deal with changes in their work life, family or community. This is a great use of therapy whether the topic is advancement and achievement at work or dealing with the injustices in our communities or something else. 

Other people will have specific things in mind that they want to change. They bring in behaviors, feelings, attitudes, relationships or experiences that they want to be different. Working on these aspects of life can be beneficial to increasing a person’s life satisfaction and has every right to be in the therapy room.

It is also a great use of therapy when a person is craving more self understanding or personal connection. One of the things many happy clients report getting from their work in therapy is a deeper understanding of self. The context of the therapeutic relationship can be healing in and of itself, providing a safe ground for self exploration and learning how you relate to other people. 

High achieving persons enjoy the benefits of therapy when used to help meet their goals. It is a myth that therapy is only for “problems.” Tracking, sharing and celebrating a person’s successes can be equally as important. 

Therapy ought to be a safe place for a client to bring all of themselves and feel seen and understood. It is a place where a person can share as little or as much of their experiences, past, thoughts, feelings, or desires as they feel comfortable or that they determine is beneficial. The goal of therapy is always to help so the topic is open and up to you, the client.

 This is where therapy comes in. Therapy is specialized help in getting something more of what a person is wanting. Perhaps there’s a relationship or habit or circumstance that isn’t resolving with the usual things a person does to help. Maybe there is something getting in the way of the life someone has always dreamed about. Or there could be a personal goal or skill a person would like to improve. Many people find therapy a wealth of helpful experiences that take them from feeling stuck to moving toward meaning and importance.

 Yes, therapy is helpful for people who meet criteria for mental health diagnosis, but they aren’t the only ones who benefit from getting therapy. Research has shown that humans benefit when they have even just one person with whom they can be completely honest and authentic. The therapy room is a place where a person can share what’s on their mind without judgment and with someone who is invested in listening, understanding and helping.

 Going to therapy is no longer reserved for persons who are deemed medically sick. Therapy is for all humans who would like specialized help creating something new. People who benefit from therapy often want something to be different and are looking for someone who can offer them more than what they can get on their own in their environment or from their existing support network.

 Now the question is…how could therapy benefit YOU?

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