Psychologist Questions Anxiety

Do therapists lead therapy sessions or do I?

I have anxiety (not officially diagnosed but it interferes with my everyday life) and I am considering therapy. I'd much rather have a format where the therapist takes the lead instead of myself. Is there a way to make sure of this before I go?

22 Answers

The therapist tends to loosely lead the sessions so there will be some order. cohesiveness of the flow of information that is needed for the therapist to obtain a complete picture (beginning, middle, current; all individuals associated with the problem, etc.) of the problems/issues being presented. The therapist will ask follow-up questions to gain a fuller picture of the problem(s) and the people (past/present) playing a role in the problem. It's a collaborate effort.

You may want to ask the therapist how he/she engage in therapy, what to expect, or what is the format since this will be your time engaging in therapy. Good Luck. I hope your experience meets your expectations. If the first try isn't successful, try again until there's a good fit between you and the therapist.
Tell them what you would like and what type of style is helpful for you. But ultimately as therapy progresses the theorist will encourage you to be more independent since dependency will only further feed your anxiety.
This is a great question. Different therapists utilize different therapeutic styles. You should request to speak to a therapist before setting an initial consultation and ask him/her if they are more passive and directive. Also learning what modalities they use (CBT, ACT, Psychodynamic, etc) could also give you an idea of if he/she will be the right fit.
Therapists don't read minds. This may be an issue from infancy when your primary caregiver failed to read your mind. Not sure. But, you get the most from therapy by going in and telling the therapist what is going on with you, and then you can get feedback and guidance. (Of course, this depends on the therapist. Some don't think symptoms are caused, but rather think they are inborn. That's a shame.)
Depending on the the of therapy you are dictates who leads the therapy sessions - though that is not a hard and fast rule as many clinicians have their own preference as to how to conduct sessions. As a rule of thumb, if you are in therapy that is based on CBT the therapist is more likely to lead the session. If you are in therapy that is more psychodynamic, the therapist is more likely to allow you to decide what is important for you to talk about during a session.
I encourage you to openly discuss this with your therapist, some forms of therapy are more structured than others and that will allow you to assure there is a good fit with your therapist. Good luck, Dr. Hirshfeld
It depends on the type of therapy. In Client-centered Therapy, the therapist does not direct the therapy. In Cognitive-behavior Therapy, the therapist is more active and directive. My approach is Cognitive-behavior Therapy. I emphasize a collaborative approach between therapist and patient. I provide direction and teach the patient therapy techniques. But the patient sets the goals for the therapy and the agenda for each session.
My recommendation would be to search for a cognitive behavioral therapist in your area. This type of therapy includes more of a teaching role and empowering the client to use the tools taught to handle difficulties as they arise
You can always call the therapist and discuss whether they prefer to use non-directive methods or more specific cognitive behavioral therapies. Those tend to be more directive and often involve homework and skill building. I tend to prefer to do both, depending on where the person is at and what is needed.
Absolutely‹ you would just need to interview a potential therapist and let him/her know you are looking for tools to anxiety reduction. Probably best to stay away from therapists whose primary orientation is psychoanalytic. You would probably benefit from those trained in cognitive-behavioral therapy. Mostly, just ask the therapist to explain his/her orientation and style.

Best, Dr. Debra
This largely depends on how you define 'lead' in your question.

Most therapists lead sessions and allow their clients to lead sessions to varying degrees. Clients who experience anxiety or need to practice assertiveness or who struggle to make themselves noticeable might benefit from taking the lead within the safe, accepting, and comfortable context of therapy where the therapist can provide constructive feedback and observe the outcome of non-risky trial-and-error practice.
Good question! There are many different styles of therapy - like shoes, or clothes! You probably are looking for a cognitive behavioral person. Among those, many personalities. So just ask on the phone or email for what you seek, and that will be the first step.

Good luck!

Marian Shapiro
Psychotherapy is an Psychological Art-form of exchange to help bring new awareness to the self.
There are various models of reflection of your emotions, while you do the internal work.
If your therapy process needs additional feedback or response or lead, you must request it. A therapy session is your time and it's about what your needs are.

Dr. Claire PSY. D. Sent from iPhone
Most psychologists will allow potential clients to interview them on the telephone prior to making their first appointment. During this telephone interview it would be wise to ask the psychologist what methods he or she would tend to use to treat anxiety and what the typical structure of psychotherapy sessions entails. Ask the psychologist on the telephone whether he or she would take the lead during sessions or if you would be expected to do this. Remember that you are consumer. Whatever the psychologist says to you should make sense to you and should feel comfortable to you. If it does not, look for another psychologist.
Effective therapists generally ask you, at the outset of each session, what you want to work on. The therapist then hopefully knows what questions to ask you and interventions to offer to help you to feel better about that issue.
This is an interesting question and the reality is that it greatly depends on the personal and professional style of the counselor. You can call several counselors and ask them to tell you about their counseling style and inquire about whether or not their sessions are structured. It sounds like you'd benefit from a highly structured style of counseling. Oftentimes, the only way to know whether or not a counselor is going to be a good fit is to schedule a session with them and find out first hand.
Just be direct with your therapist at the outset, and try to be clear about what would work best for you.
Yes, you tell the therapist what you want and they should work with that. We are at your service, remember that!
In identifying reason for seeking assistance from a psychologist usually sets the tone for direction of the session. The psychologist will seek clarification of the individual's concerns while establishing a trusting relationship with the client, without being judgmental.
This reply is for information only and does not constitute treatment.

As you get in touch with therapists, this would be a good question to address to them as part of your selection process. Some therapists are very directive and others tend to let the client set the agenda and pace of the work.

If you think you would prefer someone who has a plan for each session and ideas of that needs to be done to address your goals, you can ask that something your therapist is comfortable providing. Setting this expectation at the start of therapy and checking-in about it after a few sessions can help to make certain it happens. The check-in would also give you an opportunity to decide whether that approach continues to be comfortable after the start of therapy.
Simply discuss this with the therapist. If you are calling a few therapists on the phone to decide who to see, talk to them about it. Shouldn't be an issue.

Psychological Solutions Center
The therapist should always be in control of the session. Not necessarily with an agenda, but should be steering the discussion and keeping it solution focused.