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  • Writer's pictureLiz Chang, LMFT

When we meet: What brings you in?

This is usually the question that first gets us diving into things: What brings you in?

In other words, what are you hoping to gain from therapy? Why are you here? What's your struggle? And that's usually followed up with, why now?

Let's get into that initial question. In reality, sometimes we don't know why we need a therapist or what exactly we're looking to get out of therapy. But maybe a friend, partner, or someone in your life has suggested it. Or, you think it would be a good idea because anyone can benefit from therapy but you don't know what you'd want to focus on. In either instance, you may have a general idea of what you can look at in therapy, but might be missing some pieces that make the initial question hard to answer with something other than, "____ told me I should see a therapist," or, "I just want to feel better."

No problem. Those responses are enough. And, your therapist will work with you to see what can be discovered from there.

Other times, you might have a very distinct reason for seeking therapy. There might be a crisis, a major life transition, life adversity, relationship challenge, or personal insight into something that you want the support of a professional with. When this is the case, our conversation will usually start there.

We start with what is most present on your mind for what brings you in. We will talk about the solutions you've tried, areas of your life and relationships that the struggle is impacting, thoughts/feelings/behaviors that you're working through as a result, and goals that you have in mind for yourself. We will also get to know the history of the issue and start building context and understanding for how that came to be and how that has impacted you over time. We will revisit these topics throughout our time together and focus in on specific areas as they become relevant in real time or as they become beneficial to reflect on further.

In these early conversations on what brings you in, you'll likely hear some feedback from me on themes I'm noticing in what you talk about, things I could see us exploring further, and ways I could see us working together towards your goals for wellness. I may or may not throw some hypotheses out there to see what resonates for you, and my main goals will be for you to leave our conversation feeling heard and understood from what you share with me and having a sense of whether or not we would be a good fit to collaborate together on your journey towards wellness.

So before you pick up the phone to call or before you send that message, consider answering this question for yourself so you can get the most out of your initial session: What brings you in?

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