What to talk about in therapy: A checklist

Once you've decided to explore therapy, you might wonder what you will discuss in your sessions. It can feel like standing at the edge of an abyss, wondering where to start and what will happen once you jump in. This article will give you some insights and tips on where to begin with your therapist.


The foundation for open communication between you and your therapist hinges on establishing trust. You must feel safe and secure in your sessions, as this emotional safety net means you can share your thoughts and feelings candidly. Building rapport is crucial in making the connection between you and your therapist robust and positive. This connection is extremely important and something your counsellor is well-versed in nurturing, as it is a linchpin for the effectiveness of your therapy.

Helpful topics to discuss in therapy

Here are some topics you may find helpful to talk about in your sessions:

1. Setting goals

Setting clear therapy goals with your counsellor helps guide the conversation and is also great for helping you track your progress. You and your therapist will work together on them, regularly reviewing and checking in to ensure your counselling stays on track.

Having well-defined objectives can make the counselling process more productive and goal-oriented. Some examples of goals might be improving communication, learning coping mechanisms to change unhelpful behaviours, or gaining a better understanding of yourself. You can also identify and discuss your personal growth and well-being goals beyond therapy.

2. Exploring emotions

Talking about your positive or negative feelings is crucial for self-awareness. Exploring your emotions might be something you are not used to but don't worry; your therapist will safely help with this.

Emotional self-awareness benefits your personal growth, and you might discuss tips and exercises to try at home to help you develop this. For example, you might be feeling a sense of loneliness and disconnection from people or feeling guilt for doing something wrong. Therapy will help you work out where these feelings come from and help you find ways to forgive yourself.

3. Life events

There might be an experience or significant life event you've experienced that is affecting your mental health, causing you anxiety or depression. These may be life transitions, such as your child starting school or moving away to go to university; for example, therapy gives you the perfect space to share what has happened, which provides room to start processing and ultimately healing. 

4. Relationships

Discussing your relationships can be essential to understanding how they impact your well-being. There could be a fundamental relationship you want to explore with a family member, teenage child, or a friend, for example. It can also be helpful to explore how past relationships might still impact you now.

Therapy is a great practice ground for boundary setting. When you have healthy boundaries in your counselling relationship, it's easier to recognise and set them in your personal life. You can discuss how to put boundaries in place and their importance in healthy relationships.

5. Coping strategies

You might discuss your developed coping strategies and then evaluate what works less well. You can find alternative and healthy ways of managing together. Self-care is vital to overall mental health, and you can discuss what you do to help yourself feel good and better understand what else you can do.

6. Reflection and feedback

Reflecting on your progress in therapy helps you apply what you have learned. It's good to bounce ideas around about how you feel your counselling is going with your therapist and to ask any questions you may have about your therapy.

Finding a therapist

There can be a perception that counselling is only for when you have a severe issue or specific problem that you must work through. There is a growing recognition of the effectiveness of talking things through with a neutral person to have the space to talk through whatever is on your mind. You can decide on the support you need before a problem feels overwhelming.

Finding the therapist that is a good fit for you is important. It can feel daunting, but here are a couple of key tips on what to look for in a therapist:

  • Ensure they are fully qualified and have the appropriate training and experience to help you with your needs.
  • You should feel comfortable and safe with your therapist. They should be someone you can trust and who you feel understands you.

Feeling comfortable with your therapist and confident they can help you is important. If you don't feel you have connected with a particular therapist, don't be afraid to try someone else – we won’t mind, honestly! 

Here are some additional tips for finding a therapist:

  • Ask your friends, family, or doctor for recommendations.
  • Look for therapists in your area who specialise in your specific needs, such as family issues, relationships, parenting tweens and teens, and neurodivergence (such as ADHD or autism).
  • Use an online therapist directory.

Finding the right therapist can be challenging, but it is essential to find someone who is a good ‘fit’ for you and can help you with mental health and wellbeing. You will feel more confident and prepared as you begin your therapy journey.

If you’re ready to make a change and want to learn more about me and how we can work together, get in touch by clicking the ‘email me’ button below.

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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Seaford, East Sussex, BN25
Written by Jennifer Warwick, MSc Psych, BACP Registered | Counsellor and Parenting Expert
Seaford, East Sussex, BN25

I am a BACP registered counsellor working online. I work with people who struggle to balance work, home and family life. People constantly rush, looking after others over themselves and are exhausted. I specialise in supporting parents and carers as they navigate their child's tween and teenage years. Contact me for an introductory chat by phone.

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