Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Face-to-face therapy and online therapy are fairly similar in substance, despite one being in person and the other happening electronically. Of course, every counsellor will differ slightly from the next based on their personality, specific focuses, and style of practice. What is consistent, though, is what first-time therapy-goers can expect when they wade into the world of counselling, and what they can do to get the most out of it.

Many counsellors offer consultations to make sure client and practitioner feel it’s a good fit. With Y. Bonnie Chi Counselling, prospective clients receive a free 20-minute consultation session with Bonnie to get a feel for what conversations might look like in a therapy setting. Here, you can learn more about Bonnie’s style and professional background, while Bonnie begins to understand what purpose counselling might serve for you, and what goals you might have for your work together. At the end of the consultation, you can move forward with booking a full session if it feels appropriate.

You’ll also find out the means of communication between yourself and your practitioner. This means there’s also an opportunity to discuss your needs and preferences around how you want to approach your sessions, from both a broad communication perspective and any specific measures that would best support you.

Generally, therapy can be a little challenging. It does involve being vulnerable, considering new perspectives about long-held beliefs, and being honest with oneself and a practitioner. You may also talk about ideas or experiences that carry varying levels of emotional weight. You can expect this part to difficult, relieving, and rewarding, sometimes all at the same time.

Most practitioners will want to discuss goals with you. It’s okay if you don’t know what those are when you start; you’ll have lots of chances to come to those conclusions together. Your practitioner is a pro, so being willing to speak openly and honestly will help them do their best work – that’s supporting you!

Here’s a primer for what to expect when you start online therapy:

  1. Be prepared to talk about why you’re looking to start therapy. What are you looking to get out of online therapy? Why now?
  2. Think about your personal history, experiences, your current situation, and your current symptoms before the first session. These will all be things your therapist will ask about in the first session or two, and at other points along your mental health journey. Some people find that writing or recording notes beforehand helps to calm their nerves and remember the important things they want to mention.
  3. Get yourself to a place where you are willing to be honest, even if it’s uncomfortable. When you can be open and truthful with your therapist, they’re able to support you better. And sometimes letting out the big scary thoughts feels good!
  4. You’ll be an active participant. Your counsellor can’t support you alone and needs you to participate in the process in good faith. This can look like asking questions, being honest about your feelings and reactions, being willing to try things, and arriving to sessions wanting to engage.
  5. Be patient with change. Remember, emotional changes happen slowly. You might not feel any different after your first session, or even the second or third, but remember to engage with the ideas and suggestions your practitioner has. Mental health work is ongoing – it doesn’t just happen during sessions.

Lots of people choose to make notes during counselling sessions as reminders of what they talked about. It’s also helpful to keep a log of helpful ideas, tips and tricks, communication strategies, or coping mechanisms so you can use them later. This practice is also a great way to track progress. You might be surprised at the difference between the notes from the first few sessions and the fifth, tenth, or thirtieth sessions!

No matter when or why you start therapy, deciding to start is the hardest part. Once you do, your practitioner is a partner in your mental health journey, and you’ll gain access to fresh perspectives on healing.

If you’re thinking about counselling, you can start here. Book a free 20-minute consultation with Bonnie and get a sense of what therapy could offer. Y. Bonnie Chi Counselling offers a number of sliding scale pricing options to make online therapy more accessible.

How does this work?

If I had to wager a guess, you’re here to figure out whether I am a good fit to be your therapist. The fastest way to do that is to schedule a free consultation, and go from there!