The first thing that you should expect is to meet with someone who will “listen” to you. Listening differs from hearing, which is a part of listening. For a psychotherapist listening means hearing you express your troubles, how you and others perceive them, how long they have been occurring and what you have done to deal with them.
A psychotherapist will also be listening to how you “tell your story” – the matter that got you to deciding a change was important. A psychotherapist who is good a listener will also be attending to (see “Just What is Psychotherapy?”) changes in the way you look as you talk about your difficulties. For example, do you appear to become sad or angry as you talk, do you begin to cry, or do you have a hard time trying to explain your troubles.
Often, at points, a psychotherapist may ask you to pause and clarify something you have said. This is usually to be sure they have understood you clearly. This may also be to see how you see what it is you may have said and – perhaps – any feelings that you may have about what you said and what you have done about these feelings.
You should also expect to talk. While psychotherapists differ in how they may relate to you in psychotherapy, most prefer to actively attend to and listen while you talk. It is your time. Some psychotherapists may be a little more active and ask more questions than others ask during a particular session. Some may simply appear to just sitting and listening and not say very much.
Often, psychotherapists will change the way they are working with you from session to session. This is not to try to throw you off balance but rather to integrate different approaches in the process of change. This is how Dr. Geysen works. Some of your sessions may be devoted more toward listening, other sessions might be spent more actively engaged in trying to solve a particular problem, and still others might be devoted to bringing together parts of what have been talked about and exploring with you important things that might be related and how you think and feel about them.
Always, you should expect to be attended to and treated with respect and dignity. You should also expect the psychotherapist to invest their energy, attention, and time to you and that they try to keep a very regular schedule for you to promote a sense of consistency in the change process. When they are unable to meet with you for a particular reason, a psychotherapist will often try to let you know in advance, they may also ask about how you feel about that, and work with you to reach a solution about a missed session. A psychotherapist may expect the same from you.
Often, after four or five sessions, you will experience a sense of relief and even hope that things can change. The next several sessions will likely be devoted to actively investing in the process of change. Once there is a point of change reached and you are satisfied, the final sessions may be spent ensuring you feel the change is healthy for you, beneficial and lasting.