If you’re an adolescent / young adult who is thinking of having psychotherapy, this may feel very different to a child whose parents make all the arrangements. You are likely to have lots of questions about your own treatment, and you may be using the internet to compare treatments, check out the evidence that psychotherapy is effective or choose between different therapists and approaches.
It’s important that you know that you can ask any questions you like either in advance by email or phone, or during your first appointment. If you do decide to go ahead, it’s usual to have around three “trial” appointments to see how you find this way of working, and at the end of these to have a review; this is also a good time to raise any questions you have about the treatment or about arrangements.
It’s important to remember that everything you say in your therapy sessions is confidential unless there is a risk to yourself or to someone else, and that even if this is the case whenever possible this would be discussed with you first of all (rather than conversations happening behind your back). Termly reviews can happen either just with yourself, or with yourself and parent(s) if you and they wish to do this.
While younger children tend to communicate through play & drawing, for older adolescents & young adults it’s a talking therapy, where anything that comes into your mind is relevant (you don’t have to screen your words to include only what is “important” or “serious”). Dreams can also be helpful if you remember these. There are likely to be some silences when both you and the therapist are thinking, and this is very normal. The therapist will also pick up on non-verbal communication. Psychotherapy aims to find out what’s going on “beneath the surface”, for example there may be reasons why you feel the way you do that you’re not aware of yourself (they are unconscious). Over time, by noticing patterns and getting to know your “internal world” (the world of your mind) very well, the therapist can help you to unpick what’s going on and help you to become aware of thoughts, beliefs and patterns of behaviour that you may not have been aware of before.
It can feel easier to lie down on the couch rather than sit face to face and talk, especially once you get deeper into exploring parts of yourself that you’ve not thought about before. Some things that come into your mind might feel hard to say – maybe embarrassing, silly or irrelevant, but it’s still important to try to say them. Lying down can free you from the difficulty of eye contact, and it can feel easier to take the plunge and say whatever comes to mind. Whether or not you choose to use the couch is up to you, and you can explore what this would feel like during your therapy.