Different types of therapy will have slightly different processes, but central to all of them is the working relationship you build with your therapist. Your initial session will establish the foundations of that relationship. As you move on to further sessions your therapist will employ various techniques to assist you to examine and manage the different aspects of the particular issue you are facing. The exact techniques depend on the type of therapy and the contact method you choose.
The whole point of all therapy is that it is a relationship, a collaborative, working relationship. You are working with your therapist to achieve a set of goals that you both define. Don't feel shy about attending your first session with your goals written down, or just in your head. But equally don't worry if you can't define these at this stage, your active participation in the process will be supported by your therapist.
Everybody is different and every therapist is different so there are many different possible experiences during therapy. However there are a number of stages that you may go through.
Therapy is a positive and pro-active step, but at first you may feel nervous or shy, particularly if you have never done anything like this before.
You will be talking about things that are difficult. It may be the first time you have ever really talked about them so there's no denying that at times it will be hard. But because you are doing this in therapy you are not on your own, your therapist is there to help you and guide you. It's not uncommon to feel worse in the initial stages. You shouldn't feel put off by this. It means that something meaningful is happening, that the issues you are talking through are real and you are not avoiding the real problem. Stay with it, you will start to see a difference.
As time progresses you may start to experience a general shift in the way you think, feel or behave. Or, you may have 'breakthrough moments'. At those times something will suddenly make sense to you in a way it didn't before, or you will clearly see a way forward through a particular situation. The benefits of therapy will begin to take effect – you may see your symptoms start to decrease, you may begin to accept a difficult situation or you may begin to understand your own behaviour better and begin to be able to manage it positively. Overall you should be moving to a position where the issue that prompted you to seek therapy in the first place no longer dominates you.