Therapy is a collaborative process between therapist and client. It will start the moment you decide to reach out and make contact.
During the first appointment, the therapist typically spends a long time listening to you and getting to know you better. This helps the therapist to piece together what is happening and to understand the issue that you are facing from all possible angles. Some therapists may go through questions in a methodical, ‘factsheet’ kind of way, but some will ask them in a much more conversational style, as if you are chatting with a friend. Sometimes, it takes a few sessions to talk about all these.
Usually, by the end of the first session, you and your therapist would also have discussed the goals of the treatment. Based on the information shared and the treatment goals you want to achieve, the therapist conceptualises the issue/situation and develops a treatment plan for you. There are so many different theories and types of therapies out there, so no therapist can claim to be good in everything. Usually, a therapist favours a few models and may use a single one or a combination of them for a client. Occasionally, there are also therapists who work within a single treatment modality, for example, a behavioural therapist who uses behavioural therapy to achieve the goals of treatment.
Subsequently, the frequency of the sessions is also something to be agreed upon between the therapist and client. It can range from once a week to once in three weeks. The total number of sessions for a client varies significantly. Some clients do 2 or 3 sessions, while some do it for over a year. It is not possible to fix the number of sessions right from the beginning, although this might become clearer as you go along. It depends on many factors such as the complexity of the situation, the rapport between the therapist and the client etc. The therapist might give his/her suggestions, but the client has full flexibility to decide and change the frequency of the sessions, as well as when to terminate the process. Generally speaking, in most cases, both the therapist and client agree to end the therapy process when the goals of treatment have been met.