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6 Tips For Beginning Your Therapy Journey

Written by: Dr. Siya Mjwara, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Whilst many of us are accustomed to consulting various professionals for our overall health and wellbeing, therapy might be a new step for you. You may be a bit unsure of what to expect and how to begin this important journey.

Here are six tips that might help you along.

1. Thoughtfully pick a suitable therapist

To make this process a bit easier for yourself. Consider your main reasons for seeking therapy and find a therapist that is experienced in that area. For instance, if you’d like to address trauma find a therapist that is experienced with trauma. If you want couples therapy find a therapist that is experienced in working with couples. Take time to read the therapist's profile. In most cases, the therapist’s areas of practice and experience will be outlined on their professional profile or website. The majority of registered therapists have counseling training, despite their qualifications.

What is important to figure out is whether they are able to assist you in that particular area that you need assistance with. Check what they specialize in and how they work. Think about whether you have a certain preference in terms of things such as language, location, and age of the therapist. Remember that it might not work out with the very first therapist. You might need to prepare yourself to meet a few therapists before you make good progress. However, if you are not clear about why you are seeking therapy as well as your preferences, it might be a bit harder for you to find a suitable therapist. Try to be aware of this and be honest with yourself.

2. Prepare for your sessions

The first session is usually like an introductory session; where you and your therapist get to meet for the first time. This is also an opportunity for both of you to assess whether you might be a good fit for each other and explore a way forward in meeting your goals for therapy. Some clients write down what they want to address in therapy and that is quite helpful. Ensure that you complete any forms that your therapist asks you to complete prior to the session. If you will attend a face-to-face appointment organize your transport and other logistics in good time. If you will have your session online ensure that you are in a quiet and private space for the appointment and that your internet is connected. Ensure that you are also financially prepared for your journey and you have created a budget for your therapy. Be aware that your therapist might also need to refer you to a specialist (such as a hypnotherapist or psychiatrist) and you will need to cover those costs. Dropping out of treatment due to financial reasons might negatively impact your progress.

3. Find out how to reach your therapist

Some therapists prefer that you keep your communication via email, so it is easier to keep track. Try to ask all questions that you need to ask during consultations. Do not expect your therapist to provide any support and advice outside of consultations. The latter is generally not how therapists work. In emergencies and certain situations, your therapist might assist outside of a consultation, at their discretion. Avoid calling or messaging your therapist just before your session, as they might be in consultation and will not be able to answer your call or respond to your message immediately. Many therapists have a secretary that can help you with things like bookings, directions, and parking queries. Please remember that if you message your therapist outside of their working hours they will probably only see your message when they are back at the office before or after consultations.

4. Consider the cancellation policy and professional boundaries

Each therapist might have a different cancellation policy. Find out what the policy says and ensure you keep to it. If you do not show up for your appointment (without canceling) you will most likely still need to cover costs thereof. Remember that if you cancel or reschedule your appointment in good time, your therapist can still assist another client in that slot. Try to be considerate of this. Your relationship with your therapist is a professional one. This means you need to respect professional boundaries. If professional boundaries are not respected your therapist will bring this to your attention and it might be a good opportunity for your growth, but it might also mean you both need to consider terminating the professional relationship.

5. Be honest and patient with the process

Your therapist can only provide support based on the information that you provide. For instance, if you have a stomach ache, but you inform your medical doctor that you have a headache. You are most likely going to get treatment for a headache. Therefore lying or withholding information from your therapist is not a good idea and will not help the process. What I have noticed in practice is that clients who are already struggling with trust will most likely also struggle to trust their therapist. Therapy is not a quick fix. Explore your expectations and try to be realistic. You will need to commit yourself to the process and be patient in order to see progress. If your therapist gives you homework, try your best to complete your homework tasks and provide feedback. It is a collaborative process. Sometimes you may leave a session feeling good and sometimes you may leave a session feeling low. This is all normal.

6. Be open to feedback and appreciate the progress

Sometimes your therapist will provide feedback that you don't want to hear. Your therapist has an ethical responsibility, to be honest with you and provide correct professional insights. Remember that your therapist needs to look out for your best interests. Therefore they will need to provide support and feedback that is useful for your progress. It is up to you how you use the feedback in a manner that is healthy for you.

Celebrating the progress on your journey is important. You are taking care of your mental health and that is already something worth celebrating. Keeping a journal to write down your reflections is a good idea as it helps you track your progress. Talking to someone you trust about your progress is also a good way for you to reflect.

Taking the first step toward your healing journey does not need to be as daunting as it sometimes seems. Enjoy the process and remember that the therapy is for you. I wish you all the best.

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Dr. Siya Mjwara, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dr. Siya Mjwara is an experienced therapist & wellness coach, trainer, and EAP consultant who has worked with individuals, couples, families, and management teams across various industries for over 14 years.

Her educational and continued professional development has transformed into a dedication to bringing awareness to individuals.

She assists businesses to develop, and implement employee wellness solutions to improve productivity, reduce absenteeism, and overall workplace culture.

From an individual perspective, she supports clients to identify and confront their challenges; and the things that are holding them back; to become their truest beings by fulfilling their mission in life and walking in their purpose.

Dr. Siya is the founder of Amambelu Wellness and AskDrSiya. She is also a published poet, voice-over artist, and radio presenter.



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