How to Talk to a Therapist: Tips and Helpful Talking Points

A man wondering how to talk to a therapist

How to Talk to a Therapist and Get the Most Out of Your Therapy

Maybe you’re interested in therapy but feel like your worries are too trivial for a therapist. Or perhaps you’ve already attended a few sessions, yet you’re struggling to express yourself.

 

Either way, you’re not alone. Therapy is a step in the right direction, but it can be nerve-wracking to open up to a stranger.

 

According to research, 40.2 million American adults sought out and received mental health services such as therapy and counseling in 2019.

 

With a growing interest in psychotherapy, new patients may be surprised to find that “talk therapy” (like cognitive behavioral therapy, aka CBT) doesn’t magically transform you into an open book.

 

It takes time and patience to establish a therapeutic relationship, and it’s normal to encounter roadblocks along the way. 

 

For patients who are shy or suffer from anxiety, in-person therapy sessions can be overwhelming and stressful, even with a good therapist. Likewise, many people believe therapy is only for “serious” or “bad” stuff and has no place for everyday life. Others simply don’t know where to start.

 

The great thing about psychotherapists is that they’re human, too. 

 

As you learn how to open up about your mental health, they can learn how to best make you feel comfortable and secure.

 

Using the strategies we’ve listed below, you can start the conversation today and get the most out of therapy with Emote.

 

 

1. Ask your therapist to explain the process and what might be expected 

It’ll take time to find a therapist you like, but once you do, use your first session to learn more about how therapy works and what to expect from your sessions.

 

Even if this is not your first time trying therapy, your therapist can offer insight into the kind of progress you’d like to make and help you establish goals. These goals don’t need to be ironclad, but they can help you lean into the process. 

 

2. Write down what’s been bugging you throughout the week and bring it with you to your session

Studies suggest writing may be a potentially beneficial therapeutic tool. By writing down your fears and anxieties, you’ll have a ready-made list of talking points to bring up in therapy.

 

You can also start a journal. You can use your journal to record your progress, review what you’ve learned in therapy, and express yourself in ways you may not yet be able to with your therapist. 

 

3. Remember that there is no “right” or “wrong”

Your therapist’s office is a safe place; nothing is off-limits, much less mundane subjects.

 

Mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and eating disorders benefit from therapy, but no one’s life revolves around mental illness (though it may feel like it). It’s okay to talk about whatever you want. 

 

Likewise, you don’t need to be in therapy for something “serious.” 

 

Therapy is a versatile tool developed to help people to cope with life’s challenges, whatever they may be.

 

4. Talk about your past

We get so caught up in what’s in front of us, we sometimes forget to look back.

 

Though it certainly sounds cliché, exploring your past can offer insight into your current struggles. You can use this opportunity to address unresolved heartache, past trauma, or merely reminisce about something—or someone—important to you. 

 

Whatever the subject is, remember your therapist can provide you with tools to cope with even the most painful parts of your past.

 

5. Bring up the important relationships in your life

During therapy, sensitive topics like your private life can be discussed without fear of judgment or embarrassment. 

 

These discussions don’t have to be limited to your love life, but you can use therapy to explore intimacy issues and marital conflict.

 

Suppose you feel that your relationships may benefit from professional help. In that case, your therapist may be able to introduce you to other types of therapy, such as couples therapy and group therapy. 

 


6. Dissect and discuss your dreams

There are several theories out there about the psychology of dreams. For some, the idea that dreams are windows into the psyche may be worth exploring. 

 

Sleep is also a critical aspect of your health. Whether you believe in the science of dreams or not, therapy can help address how your waking life affects your sleep and vice versa. 

 

7. Practice in the mirror

If you find that therapy gives you performance anxiety, rehearse what you want to say in the mirror before a session. 

 

Your therapist won’t judge you if you’re nervous or happen to stutter, but until you feel comfortable opening up, focus on the power of your words and how to best get them across. 

 

8. Discuss any physical ailments you’ve been experiencing

Your physical health can affect your mental health and vice versa. If you’re struggling to cope with a physical change, injury, or illness, bring it up with your therapist.

 

Discussing health problems can give you a sense of control and a way to healthily process negative emotions about your body. 

 

Your therapist may also be able to provide you with resources that focus on physical wellness and how to cope with pain, sickness, or loss of sensation. 

 

9. If you’re not completely comfortable with your therapist, request an icebreaker activity

The goal of therapy is to discover a healthy mindset, not crash land into it.

 

 If you’re not comfortable with your therapist yet, ask for an icebreaker.

 

This could mean going over your previous session, the past week, or how your mood is. You don’t have to start the conversation on your own. Your therapist can gradually guide you until you feel comfortable discussing what’s been weighing on your mind. 

 

10. Request online and text therapy for help whenever you need it

Online therapy has been vital in addressing mental health needs across the country. 

 

If in-person therapy sessions are not an option for you, ask your therapist for remote support. They may be able to arrange digital appointments and/or text therapy for moments of crisis.

 

You can also explore exclusive online therapy services like Emote. With online therapy, you’re free to communicate and arrange sessions at your convenience. 

 

Talk to a Therapist with Emote Online Therapy

Quality healthcare service is an important part of feeling comfortable with your therapist. Trusting not only the professional’s expertise but that you’re in a safe environment can help you overcome life’s challenges. 

 

By working with one of Emote’s online therapists, you can get the care you need from the comfort of your own home.

 

By being in a space you know, you and your remote therapist can lean into therapy together. Learn at your own pace and discover coping strategies, mental health tools, and pivotal talking points. 

 

Find what works best for you: Schedule face-to-face sessions over video chat or bring therapy wherever you go with our text services

 

With Emote, you’re not alone.


Find the right therapist today and start therapy for only $35 during your first week. Check out our FAQ or contact us to learn more about your personalized therapy experience.