Topics to talk about in therapy

This blog post will cover what topics you can talk about in therapy. It will help you decide what you can talk about if you go to therapy, but are not sure of what to talk about. 

What is therapy?

Therapy or psychotherapy is when you meet a counsellor or therapist to help you with problematic behaviour, stress, relationship issues or day to day problems. It can help you change self-destructive behaviour, resolve painful feelings, improve your relationships etc. 

There are a lot of different types of therapy, so you can decide which therapist or approach to therapy works best for you. Everything that you talk about in therapy is confidential and remains between you and the therapist. 

Topics to talk about in therapy 

Everyone feels stuck about what to talk about in therapy, and here are some tips you can use to decide what you want to talk about in therapy.

There’s no right or wrong thing to talk about

Most people think that you need to talk about serious issues, and can make you feel that your topics are insignificant, but there isn’t any such thing. You can talk about anything you want to in therapy.

Even if you want to talk about trivial things, such as your friendship problems or maybe you aren’t feeling satisfied with your job, you can go to therapy. You can think about all the things that happened recently, good or bad and talk about that in therapy.

Make notes during your day

You can keep a journal to record things that happen out of your therapy sessions if you’re very shy or have a bad memory. It’ll help you remember everything you want to talk about in therapy. 

You don’t need to bring the journal with you to the session, but it can help you remember and maybe identify patterns in your behaviours that you can talk about in therapy. 

For example, if you’re feeling insecure or experiencing low self-esteem, that is a good topic to talk about in your session.

Talk about whatever is annoying you at present

If you were feeling sad or gloomy the whole week, but now you don’t feel the same way, you can talk about that in your current session. The thing about therapy is that your sessions may not go as you planned, or they may change from day today. 

Maybe you thought you’ll talk about your relationship with your friends but instead started talking about your job or that one incident that happened a few years back, and that’s okay. 

Therapy sessions are meant to be as close as possible to what is on your mind at that given moment. One psychologist from UCLA states that she tells her clients to think of their therapy time as the ‘Room of Requirement from Harry Potter — you get to get out of it whatever you are most needing that day.” Even if what you need that day is just someone to vent to.

Talk about what kept you awake last night or the week

Depression, anxiety and even a tendency to overthink can cause you to repeatedly think about a lot of incidents that happened in your past. It may bring up negative feelings and emotions. This is usually a good place to start in your session.

Talk about your relationships 

Talk about all of your relationships, not just your family or love life. Some examples may be that you feel that your friends aren’t as supportive as you would want them to be, maybe you are having problems expressing your emotions or avoiding your mother’s call, even if you like talking to her.

Relationships are an important aspect of everyone’s life, and can majorly impact your mental health. Talking about these topics helps you understand why you may be behaving this way, and what can be done to improve them.

Even talking about good relationships benefits you. It helps you realize the positive things in your life, and gives you more resources to use when you experience problems with relationships.

Discuss your past

A lot of your current problems may have roots in your past. You may be focusing on your current relationship problems or talking about your anxiety, but since the therapist doesn’t know about your past, they can’t help you get to the core of the problems.

Your family issues may be the cause of your current relationship issues. It can also help you resolve childhood trauma or unresolved feelings about your parents that you didn’t realize before this.

Bring up the feeling that you have difficulty describing

Nicholas hardy (a psychotherapist in texas) says that clients have a feeling they want to talk about but have a hard time explaining it to everyone. It can be disguised as a problem, but it’s mostly an emotion or feeling.

This happens when you experience a big change in your life such as moving to a new country, birth, marriage, slowly losing touch with your friend. It can bring up new emotions that are connected to your past, but you are unable to identify them.

Even new good things can bring up feelings that you can’t recognize and may need help with.

Thoughts or incidents you wouldn’t share with someone else

This may be an incident or thought that you are ashamed of, or you think it’s insignificant but you can’t get it out of your head.

Therapy is a great place to talk about these feelings, and process them. For example for a lot of people, the pandemic was hard and you may feel that because other people had it harder than you. It’s okay to feel this way and to talk about this in therapy. 

Another psychologist states that they like to ask clients about what topic they’d like to avoid that day, that is a good sign of what is troubling the client the most. So, therapy can be a great place for you to talk about things you would normally avoid.

Talk about why you may be avoiding therapy

Depression causes a loss of interest in things that you would usually enjoy and decreases your energy levels. This can make going to therapy extremely hard. Talking to your therapist about this will let you explore more on this to help you in the long run.

Your business/health/income

It can help you get therapy started, and talking about everyday things like work, income, relationships or your health may give you an idea of what you want to further talk about in therapy. It can also helo the therapist identify problem areas, and get to know you.

Things that made you happy this week

Listing things that made you smile this week, can help you feel more comfortable with the therapist. It also helps you realize small things you may have missed that made you happy, or you were planning on talking about to the therapist.

Ask the therapist what they feel may be a good area to start with 

Since you have no idea what you want to talk about, asking the therapist may help. They can give you ideas on what to talk about and maybe explore more issues that you wouldn’t have thought of.

Your dreams

This can be your goals in life, what you want to achieve, maybe where you see yourself in a few years. It can bring up buried feelings, new feelings and any tension you may have regarding yourself or your future.

You can also talk about what you dreamt of. Maybe you had a nightmare the day before, and haven’t been able to get it out of your head. Even recurring dreams are common, and something that you can discuss in your session.

If you are currently experiencing any stress, it will show up in your dreams as our bodies shut down, but our brains don’t.

Tell the therapist how you feel about your sessions

Honesty will take you far in therapy, and will help you more than you think it will. Tell your therapist if you feel stuck in your sessions if you feel that the sessions are not as helpful as they previously were, or how you hoped they would be. 

The therapist may have misjudged you and could be using techniques that aren’t ideal for you. When you tell them your true feelings, they can change the session plan according to that. 

Not every therapist will be the right fit for you, talking about this will help you realize if you need to start finding a new therapist.

Talk about your trust issues

They can help you look at a harmful relationship from a new perspective, and provide tools that may help you work on those issues.

Bring up daily stressors

Maybe you are in a toxic job environment or are taking on too much work than you can handle. This is a great topic to talk about in therapy, as they can help you identify why it is such a big stressor for you.

Conclusion

In this blog post, we listed topics that can be talked about in therapy, from daily stressors to heavy topics that you avoid. 

Frequently asked questions: topics to talk about in therapy

What are therapeutic topics?

There are a lot of therapeutic topics, such as:

  • Child abuse
  • Sexual health and issues
  • Gender identity
  • Marriage issues and stress
  • Violence
  • Anxiety and depression

What do therapists usually talk about?

The therapist will mostly ask you questions about your history, what brought you to therapy, your symptoms, goals, relationships and your interests

What issues can a therapist help with?

Therapists can help with a lot of issues such as: 

  • New ways to think about old situations
  • Your anxiety, depression
  • Disorders such as OCD, eating disorders, personality disorders
  • Shyness
  • Anger issues
  • Relationship issues
  • Daily stressors
  • Low self-esteem

What should I ask my therapist?

Below are some questions you can ask your therapist:

  • What kind of therapy do you offer?
  • How do I know if you’re the right therapist for me?
  • What will the treatment plan be?
  • Can we create goals for our therapy?
  • Can you recap our session?

What should I not tell my therapist?

These are some things that you shouldn’t tell your therapist: 

  • Lies and half-truths
  • Don’t ask them to fix you
  • Don’t tell them to just give you medicines and be done with it

Can you tell your therapist too much?

Yes and no, you can tell your therapist too much by repeating things, and details, going over the same few things over and over again. 

At the same time, no you can’t overshare, because that is what is therapy is for. It’s for sharing your feelings with the therapist. In fact, if you share all details, it will help them come up with a better treatment plan for you.

References

Borges, A.(2020). 11 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Therapy Right Now. Retrieved from 

https://www.self.com/story/what-to-talk-about-in-therapy

Wong, B.(2019). What To Talk About In Therapy When You Don’t Have Anything Specific To Say. Retrieved from

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/nothing-to-say-in-therapy_l_5d35e849e4b0419fd330cb59

Steinberg, J.(2019). How to Use Therapy When You Have Nothing to Talk About. Retrieved from

Thorpe, JR.(2020). 6 People Explain What They Do To Get More Out Of A Therapy Session. Retrieved from

https://www.bustle.com/p/what-to-talk-about-in-therapy-for-a-more-productive-session-21748917

Not Sure What to Talk About in Therapy? 12 Things to Consider. Retrieved from

https://www.healthline.com/health/what-to-talk-about-in-therapy#lean-into-the-challenge

What to talk about in therapy:21 (real) topics for you. Retrieved from

What Is Therapy? Retrieved from

https://www.goodtherapy.org/what-is-therapy.html