Common themes a therapist may explore with you in sessions

Therapy is a remarkable journey of self-discovery, healing, and personal growth. Whether you're considering therapy for the first time or have experienced it, you may wonder about the topics therapists may ask about during sessions. Questions serve as the compass that guides the therapeutic process, helping both therapist and client navigate the path to understanding, insight, and positive change.


This article will delve into the therapy world, shedding light on the common questions therapists ask during sessions. We'll explore why these questions are essential and how they contribute to the therapeutic relationship and healing journey. By understanding the purpose and significance of these questions, you can better prepare for your therapy sessions or gain a newfound appreciation for the transformative power of therapeutic dialogue.

So, let's embark on a journey through the probing, reflective, and empathetic questions therapists use to help clients navigate the complex terrain of their emotions, thoughts, and experiences. Whether you're a potential therapy-goer or simply curious about the process, exploring the common questions therapists ask may provide valuable insights and a deeper appreciation for the art of therapy.

Building rapport

Rapport refers to establishing a positive and trusting connection between two people, such as a therapist and a client. In therapy, building rapport is the initial step where the therapist aims to create a safe and comfortable environment where clients can open up and share their thoughts and feelings.

Therapists use various techniques and methods to build rapport, including active listening, empathy, and open-ended questions. This rapport-building process can help clients feel understood, valued, and respected, setting the foundation for a productive therapeutic relationship. It is an essential element of successful therapy, as a strong therapeutic alliance enhances the client's willingness to engage in the process and work collaboratively toward their goals.

Assessing the problem

Assessing the problem is a critical phase in the therapy process. The therapist works with the client to identify and understand the specific issues or concerns that have led them to seek therapy. This involves thoroughly exploring the client's experiences, emotions, and thoughts related to the problem.

Therapists use various questions and techniques to assess the problem, such as asking the client to describe the issue, its impact on their life, and any relevant background information. They comprehensively understand the client's unique challenges and the factors contributing to their distress.

The assessment phase allows therapists to develop a tailored treatment plan and set achievable goals for therapy. It also provides a foundation for effectively addressing the client's needs, whether they are struggling with mental health issues, relationship problems, life transitions, or other concerns. In essence, assessing the situation is the first step toward helping clients find solutions, gain insights, and make positive life changes.

Goal setting

Goal setting in therapy is the process of collaboratively establishing clear and achievable objectives between the therapist and the client. These goals outline what the client hopes to achieve through therapy and serve as a roadmap for the therapeutic journey.

During goal setting, therapists work with clients to identify specific, measurable, and realistic targets for improvement. These goals can encompass various aspects of the client's life, such as emotional well-being, personal growth, relationships, or behavioural changes.

Establishing therapy goals can be considered by many as essential as it focuses and directs the therapeutic process, helping the therapist and the client track progress and measure success. Goals also serve as a source of motivation and a framework for assessing the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions. In essence, goal setting in therapy helps clients take concrete steps toward positive change and a more fulfilling life.

Exploring past experiences

In therapy, exploring past experiences involves delving into a client's personal history, including childhood, family background, and previous life events. Therapists use this process to gain insights into how a client's past may influence their thoughts, emotions, and behaviours.

By discussing past experiences, therapists aim to uncover patterns, traumas, and unresolved issues that could contribute to the client's current challenges. This exploration allows clients to connect the dots between their past and present, fostering greater self-awareness and understanding.

Exploring past experiences can be a powerful tool in therapy, as it helps clients make sense of their emotions and behaviours, heal from past wounds, and work towards personal growth and positive change.


Self-reflection is the process of introspectively examining one's thoughts, feelings, actions, and experiences. In therapy, self-reflection is a valuable practice that clients engage in to gain deeper insight into themselves and their personal development.

Therapists encourage self-reflection to promote self-awareness, self-acceptance, and personal growth. Clients can identify patterns, underlying motivations, and areas for potential change by contemplating their thoughts and behaviours. This practice empowers individuals to make more informed decisions and better understand their emotions, values, and beliefs.

In therapy, self-reflection plays a pivotal role in helping clients take ownership of their personal development and work toward the positive changes they desire in their lives.

Monitoring progress

Monitoring progress in therapy involves regularly assessing and evaluating the client's development and the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions. Therapists and clients work together to track changes in thoughts, emotions, behaviours, and the achievement of therapy goals.

This ongoing assessment is essential for several reasons. It helps clients and therapists understand what is working well and what may need adjustment in the therapy process. It also provides motivation by showing clients how far they've come and what still needs to be addressed. Additionally, monitoring progress ensures that therapy remains focused, effective, and tailored to the client's evolving needs.

By consistently monitoring progress, therapists and clients can make informed decisions about the direction of therapy and make necessary adaptations to achieve the desired outcomes.

Addressing concerns

Addressing concerns in therapy involves providing a safe space for clients to express their worries, doubts, or reservations about the therapeutic process. It's a vital aspect of effective therapy, as it allows clients to voice any discomfort, uncertainty, or questions they may have.

Therapists actively listen and respond empathetically to these concerns, ensuring clients feel heard and respected. Addressing concerns helps build trust and rapport in the therapeutic relationship. It allows clients to engage more fully in the therapeutic process. It also enables therapists to clarify misunderstandings, manage expectations, and make necessary adjustments to create a more supportive and productive therapy experience.

Therapy can be a transformative journey guided by skilled therapists who ask insightful questions, foster understanding, and support personal growth. In exploring the common questions therapists ask, we've uncovered how these inquiries serve as keys to unlocking the doors of self-discovery and healing.

Whether you're considering therapy or simply curious about the process, understanding the significance of these questions can deepen your appreciation for the therapeutic journey. From building rapport to addressing concerns, the therapist's toolbox of questions is a pathway to self-awareness, self-acceptance, and positive change.

As you embark on your own therapeutic journey or support others in theirs, remember that these questions are more than just words; they are the tools of transformation, helping you navigate the complex terrain of emotions, thoughts, and experiences.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Wantage OX12 & Rickmansworth WD3
Written by Hope Therapy & Counselling Services, Offering Counselling, CBT, Hypnotherapy, EMDR & Mindfulness.
Wantage OX12 & Rickmansworth WD3

Ian Stockbridge is the founder and lead counsellor at Hope Therapy and Counselling Services. 

As an experienced Counsellor, Ian recognised a huge societal need for therapeutic services that were often not being met. As such the 'Hope Agency' was born and its counselling team now offers counselling and therapeutic support throughout the UK.

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