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Preparing for your therapy appointment

To help you understand what happens in your appointment, please read the Service Agreement Statement.

You may like to read an Overview of Counselling and Psychotherapy.

Also, here's some tips to help you prepare for your therapy appointment

Different people want different things out of therapy. Being clear about the reasons you are choosing to undertake therapy can help you prepare for a successful therapeutic experience. Before your appointment, you may want to consider

  • what you want to get out of therapy – what are your ‘objectives’? What do you want to achieve? Try to be realistic and specific – wanting ‘to be happy’ or ‘never to feel down again’ need to be defined.
  • what is the one issue or concern that seems most important to focus on now ?
  • how might you achieve your goals? Your appointment is time set aside for you to identify what you need to improve your mental wellbeing (within the parameters of ethical therapeutic practice)
  • what do you need to talk through/ think aloud about/ understand better?
  • how does the problem affect you/other people in your life?
  • What have you tried that has helped you with this problem?
  • What have you tried that has not helped with the problem or made it worse?

To check you are prepared to engage in your therapy appointment, you may think about

  • your willingness to engage in the process of therapy. Sometimes it can be challenging, sometimes cathartic, sometimes revealing, sometimes demanding – sometimes it's a combination of all of these and more – are you up for it?
  • your desire to change something to improve your mental well-being. What challenges your desire to change, ie what might stop you making changes? What encourages you to wish to change, what can help you to make changes?
  • Your willingness to talk about yourself, your feelings, your life experiences?
  • How will you know when you have achieved the changes you desire?

To prepare to undertake your therapy appointment it may be useful to

  • write things down either in a journal format or a thought-scatter diagram.
  • practise defining how much you feel something, for example, on a scale of 1 to 10 how happy/sad/anxious/depressed/etc do you feel at any given moment?
  • monitor your thoughts and behaviours closely to prepare yourself for undertaking your appointment as this will develop your self-awareness
  • develop your ‘emotional literacy’ ie practise thinking about what you’re feeling and finding a way to describe it
  • read self-help books and resources to get you thinking about your issues
  • consider enrolling on our Steps to Wellbeing programme to ensure that you have strategies and resources in place to help you
  • think about who in your life could support you as you address the issue

It is important to note that none of the above is essential before your appointment, but they might help you to prepare and get the most out of your opportunity.

You may want to read this general introduction to counselling and psychotherapy information sheet written by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).


We asked students who used our service about how useful they found the information to help them prepare for therapy. Here's a sample of their responses:

"It was useful and made the sessions more effective as you knew what to talk about and what your goals were"

"Having never had counselling, the pre-information was very helpful as it gave me an insight to how the sessions will run"

"I felt that the pre-session information was very important and useful, it allowed me to feel more comfortable starting an initial session."

"I found this very useful in setting boundaries and expectations"