What happens in a therapy session

What happens in a therapy or counseling session?

If you’ve never been in counseling or therapy before, you may wonder what happens during a  session.   In a recent post, I addressed what to expect from your initial counseling session, but this post gets at more of what happens in ongoing sessions.    Each counselor or therapist may structure their sessions a little differently based on their approach to counseling, the presenting problem you want to address and their personality, but this post will provide a general overview of what to expect.

Typically ongoing sessions are between 45-60 minutes long.   Your counselor or therapist will keep track of time during session and let you know when it is time to wrap up.


I generally start the session by asking my clients about their week and any reflections that they had about our last session.   You may think that you won’t have anything to talk about, but I find that when I ask these very general questions most of my clients end up easily filling their time.  It can be helpful to think about what you’d like to process with your counselor or therapist prior to session.  If you are struggling to find something to talk about, you and your counselor can always refer to your treatment goals to help guide the counseling session.   Throughout the session your counselor may ask you questions or share observations to help you process your experiences.   Your counselor is unlikely to give you specific advice or direction.


Most of the time, when I work with adults, the above is all done conversationally with my client and I sitting across from each other.   When children are involved, I typically include more creative activities, games or play techniques.


At the end of session, your counselor will likely invite some type of summary of the session. I like to ask my clients what they are taking away from the session or what they plan to work on between sessions.


The end of the counseling session is also a time to take care of any administrative tasks if they weren’t addressed at another time in the session.  For example, you may take care of scheduling or payment at the end of session.


Don’t hesitate to let your counselor know if you have any questions about what to expect from your counseling session.


To learn more about the counseling services that I offer in the Eagan, Minnesota area, please visit my Counseling Page.

2 thoughts on “What happens in a therapy or counseling session?

  1. I am really enjoying all of these posts you are doing regarding counseling. I think if more people really understood what happens, why, the logistics, and all of the other pertinent information, they would be more willing to give it a try.

  2. Thank you so much, Julie. I am definitely trying to help people be more informed about counseling in order to make it more approachable for those who may benefit.

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