What to Expect From Individual Therapy


Aligning client expectations with the role of mental health providers is important because it helps build a rapport between clients and therapists. That rapport is not only important for trust-building but also critical for achieving optimal treatment outcomes. In the ideal circumstance, effective individual therapy can be life-changing.

Because individual therapy is a one-on-one interaction that involves deeply emotional experiences, it can allow a client to access personalized mental health care from trained therapists. Usually, psychotherapists can be psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, psychiatrists, or psychiatric nurse practitioners.

How Individual Therapy Works

Many clients with substance use problems need to be treated with psychotherapy. This often happens in the form of individual counseling or therapy. More specifically, there is a range of proven and effective approaches to take. Below are the most common approaches and their corresponding goals:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps the client examine and identify the connection between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. The goal is to replace negative self-talk patterns with positive ones.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy helps the client cope with stress, improve emotional regulation to improve social relationships in life.
  • Interpersonal Psychotherapy helps the client build relationship skills.
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy helps the client increase awareness of thoughts and emotions to better regulate them towards healthy outcomes.
  • Psychodynamic Therapy helps the client understand how unconscious experiences affect behaviors.

Benefits of Individual Therapy

While detox and medications seek to treat the body’s dependence on substances, individual therapy treats the mind’s mental health conditions that often co-occur with long-term addiction. Individual psychotherapy has been proven effective in helping people identify unhealthy habits and rebuild healthy coping skills.

Because individual therapy helps the client reduce stress and regulate negative emotions, it has been effective in reducing relapses and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Many common therapeutic approaches are also evidence-based. Finding good rapport with a therapist can facilitate long-term success in recovery.

How to Prepare for the First Session

The first session of individual therapy often lasts between 45 and 60 minutes. It is mainly for the therapist to get to know a client, gather information about a client’s history, and discuss any major concerns that can be prioritized for the upcoming sessions. It usually takes a few sessions for the therapist to have a good understanding of a client’s situation and medical history. After this step, the therapist can address concerns and determine the best course of intervention or therapeutic approaches to be used.

The first session can be used to decide if the therapist is a good fit for the client’s needs. The client needs to find a therapist they are comfortable with because rapport and trust are vital to successful treatment. The client will be given space to ask questions, such as what type of therapy will be used, what is the length of sessions, and how many sessions are needed.

It would be hard to dive into past experiences for the first session. Therapists should be aware that there can be intense emotions involved when a client is guided to reflect on past experiences that relate to their current mental health issues. These should be mostly reserved for later sessions when rapport and trust are in place. Both the therapist and the client need preparation to get to that stage of deep sharing and listening.

Therapist-Client Confidentiality Issues

The therapist’s role in the first sessions is mainly to help clients build confidence in seeking treatment and gain more comfort in doing the talking during sessions. The client should expect a therapist to take notes of observations and ask probing questions. They can also expect the therapist to explain confidentiality terms and the limits of confidentiality during all sessions.

Although therapists are professionally bound to act in the client’s interests (known as a fiduciary responsibility), they are legally obligated to obey federal and state law. Therapists may break confidentiality to protect someone from harm in the following situations:

  • The therapist believes that a client is in immediate danger of self-harm.
  • The therapist reasonably believes that a client may harm someone else or has already done so.
  • The client is unable to take care of basic survival needs.
  • A judge directly orders a therapist’s treatment records.

Therapists must also ensure client safety and professionalism by providing an environment that is free from offensive behavior, discrimination, sexual misconduct, and financial malfeasance. In the first few sessions, a client has the right to ask questions regarding the therapist’s background, rate structure, treatment frame, and logistics.

Individual therapy allows for one-on-one interactive sessions that involve deeply emotional experiences. Recovering individuals may get personalized mental health care from trained therapists this way. Developing a good rapport with an experienced therapist to work with can be highly effective in treating emotional and mental health issues that commonly co-occur with substance addiction. Casa Recovery treats both the body and the mind. The facility’s therapists are highly experienced in addressing the individual emotional and mental health needs of each client.  The staff at Casa Recovery believes that a client’s treatment plan should be as unique as they are to maximize effectiveness and produce a successful treatment outcome.  Each client’s treatment team will work with them to provide customized efficient and effective treatment methods that have been developed and applied in clinical settings. Early intervention is key. To learn more about the help that clients receive, call Casa Recovery today at (888) 928-2272

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