A Therapy Session, What’s it Really Like.


I am a working therapist, and I would like to share with you what it’s like to see clients. Therapists generally work the same way; however, each therapist works slightly different, adding their own personality and style. Through the years, I’ve created my own way of working with clients that I have found to be highly successful.

After the initial phone call,  an intake session is scheduled. In this session, we speak about what the problem is, how it is affecting your life, how I might help you, and together we develop a plan.

Sometimes clients ask, “How are you different from bouncing ideas off my friends and family.” 

First of all, family and friends can be great to bounce ideas off of, but because they love you and want good things for you sometimes they do not provide you with the truth, can be overly harsh or want you to do what they want.  I’m not family, nor am I a friend and that fact gives me the ability to look at what is going on as a neutral third party. Additionally, I have many years of specific training and experience to help people with all sorts of bothersome problems quickly and effectively.

Therapists are bound by laws and state regulation to protect your information by keeping it confidential (there are a couple of exceptions by law) but mostly what you say in therapy stays in therapy.  Sometimes friends accidentally share your secrets.

Therapists do not advise as friends do, but therapists allow you to talk out your feelings, help identify the behaviors that are causing you problems, and create a strategy for making changes. Therapists are also able to determine if your concerns might be physical, sometimes depression and other mental health issues start with some physical problems that you may not be aware of. 

Therapists have spent years gaining experiences in the practice of counseling and often gain over 3000 hours before they can work independently. Then, of course, there are two state exams that therapists must pass before they can sit in the room with you. Your family and friends not so much.

Therapists also get specialized training, for example, I have personally have training in adolescent drug and alcohol recovery, inpatient and outpatient therapy; and I have also experience working at a boy’s home, and a psychiatric hospital. These experiences have given me the opportunity to use different types of therapeutic interventions, i.e., CBT, DBT, Solution Focus, Play Therapy, Trauma-Focused, among others.

You can choose a therapist through your insurance company, or perhaps by word of mouth, or by searching therapists websites.  In California,  a professional organization called California Association Of Marriage and Family Therapists, (CAMFT) has a list of therapists.

I seem to have many referrals through the years by word of mouth – the nicest of referrals.  It means former clients trusted me, felt they were helped by our work together.  We discussed family issues, working in a business with family members, addiction issues, parent-child issues, children who were adopted and struggling with “who they are, where they came from.”

Each session is a problem-solving session.  You talk about your current situation, and your therapist uses their expertise to help you in trying to resolve the problem. Also, remember all our conversations are confidential.

Some therapists like to give homework in between sessions so that you can practice in real life the new skills and the time in between sessions you can think about what you’d like to discuss in the next session.  Your therapist might make some suggestions about what you might do in between sessions to feel better, i.e., exercise three times a week for 15 minutes outside in the sun. Most clients start therapy weekly, and then as confidence grows, skills increase, emotions are in check, and the problems start to be resolved, the sessions may change to bi-monthly, then monthly. 

Therapy should not be for forever but used when certain problems arise that make it hard for you to function in your daily life.

Some clients find that they come to therapy for six months to a year and then go about living their lives.  When new problems pop up, or they feel overwhelmed, they come back for a check-in, learn new skills and end therapy quickly. It all depends on the problems and how disabling it is to you.    

B.G. Collins summed up my feeling of being a therapist best he said;

“Most grateful for the job I choose.”

As you can see, there are a few major differences between advice from family and friends or a therapist. If you are struggling with any life problem give me a call and let’s chat about the work, we can do together.

By Judy McGehee, LMFT

My passion is working with children, teens, adults and couples, who want to build meaning in their lives. Building trust, intimacy, and companionship are most important to me as a therapist.

My relationship in counseling began about 35 years ago in working with families in church settings,in schools, and addiction treatment centers.. I became licensed in 1995, and have found this is the profession I thrive in, and wish for my clients the richness and relationships they are seeking from therapy.

I have also worked in,psychiatric hospitals, and children's centers, and believe my career has been embellished through each and every client I have had the privilege of working with.

I also enjoy being a Clinical Supervisor, and have had the honor of mentoring over 495 Interns/Associates since 1997. I received my Master's Degree from Phillips Graduate Institute, I am a member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) and enjoy the membership of three local chapters of CAMFT.

I look forward to working with you in the future at CCS.