THE PROCESS: The first step in psychotherapy is an evaluation, during which you openly describe the difficulties you are facing and I listen closely to everything you are telling me in order to fully understand and consider the ways in which I could offer professional help. In consultation with you, I would determine the best treatment plan to meet your objectives and adapt it to your individual needs. I would then explain the main aspects of the proposed psychotherapy.

During the first sessions, we would get to know each other and establish the foundation for a trusting relationship.

This evaluation is in fact a two-way process and is an opportunity for you to ask any questions about my qualifications, how I will be working with you, or anything else you may be wondering about.

When you start psychotherapy, you engage in a process of change that requires close collaboration with your psychologist. It is a process in which you can let yourself go, expressing your thoughts and feelings freely without fearing that you will be judged or criticized. Psychotherapy is rewarding but also often demanding. In psychotherapy, you may find yourself thinking outside the therapy hours about the work you are doing in therapy and about the realizations you are making and examining situations or emotions that disturb or frighten you. You may talk about things you have never discussed before. You may become aware of the fact that relationships with others are changing as progress is made. You may also realize that certain thoughts, feelings and behaviours are changing.

The therapy relationship itself is open to examination and any thoughts or feelings you are having about the therapy are appropriate to discuss and potentially very helpful in guiding the therapy.

DURATION: Changing the ways in which we think and act is not easy so the duration of the psychotherapy will depend on many factors such as the seriousness of the problem, the objectives you want to attain, the frequency of the sessions, the type of therapeutic approach used, your reactions to therapy, your motivation to change, and commitment to the process. Psychotherapy can therefore last anywhere from a few weeks to a year or more.

(adapted from "Turning over a new leaf: Psychologists and Psychotherapy".
A publication of the Order of Psychologists of Quebec)

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Brian Wrench is a member of the Order of Psychologists of Quebec

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