During therapy

I want to talk in depth…but my therapist doesn’t

There are numerous different types of therapy (see ‘Types of therapy’). Each of these has a different understanding about what leads to the problems and situations that people seek therapy for. Sometimes these differences are only quite small, and the therapy will be similar whereas the difference can be quite marked between others. 

For example, some therapies will place a greater emphasis on past events, others will look at the importance of personal relationships, others stay focused on the present and keep track of your thoughts, moods and actions.   These differences in theory and understanding lead to different methods or techniques of therapy, and different ways of working in the therapy room. 

A therapy that has a greater focus on developing an understanding of key past events and hidden feelings, of which you may not be immediately aware,  will make greater use of detailed and depth discussion about these than a therapy that is more focussed on developing an active, forward looking pragmatic approach to overcoming the difficulties of everyday life.  

It’s important to note, however, that just because a therapy has more focus on the ‘here-and-now’, it doesn’t mean that the past is not important.  For example, our childhood experience can be very helpful in understanding what led to the current situation and what may be helpful to address in everyday experience. Similarly, just because a therapy has more focus on the past, it doesn’t mean that  the ‘here-and-now’ is not important, as the present is where the consequences of earlier events will be continuing to exert some effect or influence (including in the therapy room). 

Once your therapist has completed your assessment they will usually come up with a plan for therapy that is based on the theories that a) they have been trained in and use in clinical practice and b) that apply to your situation or problem (this is sometimes called the ‘formulation’). 

Your therapist should explain to you their understanding of your problem and situation, and explain and agree the therapy methods (or techniques) that will work towards addressing, overcoming or understanding your difficulties. 

It is important that your therapist takes time to ensure you understand the plan that has been developed, and that you agree to it. To do this, it helps if it makes sense to you and that you see it as a credible way of helping you with your situation or problems. 

It is important that your preference for the therapy methods is considered by your therapist. It may be appropriate for your therapist to suggest limiting the amount of talking in depth about a particular current or historical situation if this could reasonably be considered to be one of the things that is keeping you stuck - but this should be discussed with you. 

If, however, you feel that the specifics and uniqueness of your situation haven’t been taken into account and that considering your experience in more detail would help you engage more fully in therapy then you may be able to agree this with your therapist. If you feel that the emphasis and focus of the therapy and/or the therapist isn’t right for you, then it may be best to discuss alternative options with them, or your referrer (see related content – Can I choose another therapist?)