What to do when you don't know what to talk about in therapy

Entering therapy can be a transformative and healing experience. Still, there may be moments when you find yourself at a loss for words. In therapy sessions, it's common to face the question, "What do I talk about today?". 


The importance of open communication in therapy

In therapy, the power of words cannot be understated. Open and honest communication forms the bedrock of the therapeutic process. It is the gateway to understanding, healing, and personal growth. A therapy session is a safe space to express your thoughts, feelings, and experiences without judgment. Your therapist is there to listen, support, and guide you on your journey to better mental and emotional well-being.

Without open communication, the therapeutic process can be hindered. Through dialogue, you explore your inner world, confront challenges, and develop coping strategies. The therapeutic relationship is built upon trust, nurtured through your willingness to share your thoughts and feelings. It's a two-way street where your therapist communicates their insights, reflections, and strategies to help you.

Through open communication, you gain clarity about your struggles, recognise behaviour patterns, and discover solutions. You uncover the underlying causes of your distress, confront your fears, and find ways to overcome obstacles. In essence, open communication in therapy is the key that unlocks your path to self-discovery, healing and personal transformation. 

Understanding why you might struggle to find topics

At times, the blank canvas of a therapy session can be daunting. You might find yourself grappling with the question of what to talk about. Recognising that this struggle is a natural part of the therapeutic process is essential. Here are some common reasons why you might find it challenging to identify topics in therapy:

Fear and vulnerability

Opening up about deeply personal issues can be intimidating. You may fear judgment and rejection, or your thoughts and feelings are unworthy of discussion. This fear can lead to hesitancy in sharing.

Shame and guilt

Certain topics may evoke strong feelings of shame or guilt. Discussing these emotions can be difficult, as it requires confronting deeply ingrained beliefs about oneself.


Sometimes, life can be overwhelming, and you might not know where to start. This feeling of chaos can make it hard to pinpoint specific issues to discuss.

Resisting change

Discussing certain topics might imply a need for change or self-reflection, which can be met with resistance. Avoiding these conversations can be a defence mechanism to maintain the status quo.

Understanding these barriers can help you navigate moments of uncertainty in therapy. It's important to remember that therapy is a supportive environment where you can work through these challenges and find meaningful discussions promoting healing and growth. Your therapist is there to guide and support you in overcoming these obstacles.

Tips for finding meaningful topics in therapy

When you're uncertain about what to discuss in therapy, these practical tips can help you uncover meaningful topics and make the most of your sessions:

Self-reflection and journaling

Spend time reflecting on your thoughts, feelings, and experiences between sessions. Keeping a journal can be valuable for organising your thoughts and identifying patterns.

Identify recent life events or triggers

Consider recent events, both positive and negative, that have had an impact on your emotional well-being. These events often provide fertile ground for discussion.

Discuss progress and setbacks

Review your progress in therapy and any setbacks or challenges you've faced. Sharing your experiences in navigating obstacles can be insightful and constructive.

Set goals for therapy

Establish clear goals and intentions for your therapy sessions. Discuss your aspirations, what you hope to achieve, and what you want to work on. This can provide a clear direction for your conversations.

By implementing these tips, you can enhance your ability to find meaningful topics in therapy, allowing you to engage in constructive and insightful discussions that contribute to your personal growth and well-being. Remember, therapy is a collaborative effort, and your therapist is there to support you on your journey.

Coping with silence and uncomfortable moments

Silence can be a powerful and sometimes uncomfortable aspect of therapy. While it may feel awkward, it can also be a valuable opportunity for reflection and insight. Here's how to cope with moments of silence and discomfort in therapy:

Recognise silence as a tool

Understand that silence is a therapeutic tool. It allows you to process your thoughts and feelings, often preceding moments of breakthrough or self-discovery.

Embrace the pause

Instead of rushing to fill the silence, embrace it. Use this time to dig deeper into your thoughts and emotions. What comes to mind during these moments? Share that with your therapist.

Express your feelings

If you feel uncomfortable or stuck due to silence, communicate this to your therapist. Openly discuss your experience, and they can help you navigate it.

Explore your resistance

Silence might also be a result of resistance to discussing certain topics. Reflect on why you might be avoiding a particular issue or feeling. Discussing this resistance can lead to meaningful insights.

Trust the process

Remember that therapy is a process, and growth often involves discomfort. Trust that the silence and discomfort are part of the journey toward self-awareness and healing.

By approaching silence as an opportunity for self-reflection and exploration, you can make the most of these moments in therapy and use them to further your progress. Your therapist is there to guide you through these moments and help you uncover the insights you need.

The power of asking questions

In therapy, asking questions is a potent tool that can enrich your experience and promote meaningful conversations. Here's why questions matter:

Fostering curiosity

Questions reveal your curiosity about your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. They encourage exploration and self-discovery.


Questions help you seek clarity. Suppose something is unclear, or you're unsure about a topic. In that case, asking questions can lead to a better understanding of your own experiences.

Identifying patterns

Questions can uncover recurring patterns in your life. You can identify underlying patterns that need exploration by asking yourself why you make certain choices or react in specific ways.

Promoting self-reflection

When you ask questions, you delve into your own psyche, fostering self-reflection and introspection. This self-awareness is a crucial part of personal growth.

Deepening the therapeutic relationship

Asking questions of your therapist can deepen the therapeutic relationship. It demonstrates your engagement in the process and your commitment to personal growth.

The power of asking questions lies in your willingness to be curious, open, and introspective. Both in therapy and in life, it's a valuable skill that can lead to a deeper understanding of yourself and the world around you.

Seeking professional help if needed

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you may continue to struggle with finding topics or making progress in therapy. During these moments, it's crucial to recognise that seeking professional help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Here's why it's important:

Expert guidance

Therapists are trained to assist individuals in navigating their mental and emotional challenges. They can offer insights and techniques that might be elusive on your own.

Objective perspective

A therapist provides an objective, non-judgmental perspective, allowing you to explore your concerns in a safe, confidential environment.

Customised support

Therapy is tailored to your specific needs. Whether you require additional strategies, a change in therapeutic approach, or a referral to a specialist, a therapist can offer the guidance and direction you need.

Progress and healing

Seeking professional help can lead to progress, healing, and personal growth. It's a proactive step toward addressing your mental health and emotional well-being.

If you find that therapy alone is not enough to address your challenges, don't hesitate to discuss your concerns with your therapist. They can help you explore options for additional support or refer you to another mental health professional who can better address your specific needs. Your well-being is paramount, and seeking help when necessary is commendable.

In the realm of therapy – where words have the power to heal – asking, "What do I talk about today?" is a common and often transformative question. Remember that open communication is the cornerstone of therapy, the pathway to understanding, healing, and personal growth. Even when you don't know what to discuss, these moments are part of the process. You can navigate the therapeutic journey effectively by recognising the barriers to finding topics and employing practical tips.

Embrace the power of silence and questions. They can lead to profound insights and guide you toward self-discovery. In moments of discomfort, remember that growth often begins at the edge of your comfort zone.

And if you ever find yourself at an impasse, consider seeking professional help. It's a courageous step toward your mental and emotional well-being. Therapy is a collaborative effort between you and your therapist, and it's a journey with no fixed destination but one filled with potential for personal transformation. Embrace the process, trust in your capacity to heal, and remember that in therapy, even when words are scarce, the unspoken can be a powerful force in itself.

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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Stroud GL5 & Gloucester GL1
Written by Hope Therapy & Counselling Services
Stroud GL5 & Gloucester GL1

Hope Therapy & Counselling Services are dedicated to providing comprehensive and compassionate mental health and wellbeing support to individuals, couples, and families. Our team of experienced and qualified counsellors & therapists are committed to helping clients navigate life's challenges...

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