7 Therapy Guidelines for Beginners

Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, can be used for the effective treatment of bipolar disorder, anxiety or depression, among other mental health disorders. A good psychotherapist can help you problem-solve, change your behaviours that may exacerbate your symptoms, and cope with your feelings. Talk therapy mainly focuses on today’s feelings, life issues, and thoughts.

There are different mental health specialists who can offer talk therapy to patients. The most common include psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, social workers, and psychiatric nurses. The most important part of choosing a psychotherapist is to ensure you can talk freely and openly with the therapist, make progress, and set attainable goals.

1. What to Expect

For your first few sessions, you will probably talk a lot. Tell the therapist why you’re there and what you want out of your time with him or her. This is when you should make the decision as to whether the psychotherapist is a good match for you. Ask about different therapies offered and if those might be suitable for your needs.

2. Get the Most out of Your Sessions

Before you start therapy, make a list of all of the issues that are bothering you, and the issues for which you want to get help. Take the list to your first appointment. Things you may want to include on your list are:


  • any thoughts of self-harm;
  • changes in sleeping or eating habits;
  • problems with your family or other relationships; and
  • anxiety, anger, troubling feelings, or irritability.


There are several different types of therapy a psychotherapist may offer. These include, but are not limited to, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Family Focused Therapy (FFT), and Interpersonal Therapy (IPT).

3. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)

CBT works best when the patient can take an active role in the process. This is a goal-oriented therapy and one way it helps is to make a person recognize any core beliefs or automatic thoughts that can contribute to negative emotions.

A good therapist can make the patient see that some of these beliefs and thoughts don’t make sense or are false, and helps the patient to change them. Through practical application, the patient can learn new and healthier behaviours.

4. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

DBT is a form of CBT where the psychotherapist will assure the patient that his or her feelings are understandable and valid, while coaching the patient to realize that it is his or her responsibility to change disruptive or unhealthy behaviours. The therapist teaches the patient the skills required to more appropriately deal with similar situations in the future.

5. Family Focus Therapy (FFT)

Family Focused Therapy works to determine conflicts and difficulties among family members that can be affecting the patient’s mental health concerns. Family members receive education about their loved one’s condition and how to help that person to manage it more effectively. The therapist also deals with the stress and other feelings that family members can feel when they care for a person with a mental health disorder.

6. Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

IPT is goal-oriented and time-limited, and looks at a patient’s social relationships, symptoms, and roles. The goal is to teach the patient new skills that can lessen any adverse symptoms.

7. How Talk Therapy Can Help

Talk therapy can help in many ways:


  • cope with stress;
  • understand your condition;
  • make sense of traumatic experiences in your past;
  • define and obtain goals for your wellness;
  • overcome insecurities or fears;
  • establish a dependable, stable routine;
  • identify any triggers that could worsen your symptoms;
  • improve your relationships with friends and family;
  • end destructive habits like drug or alcohol abuse, unhealthy sex, or overspending;
  • separate your personality from the moods and reactions caused by your mental health condition;
  • come up with a plan for coping with crisis; and
  • understand why certain things bother you and what you can do about it.