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Preparing for a Therapy Session

Oftentimes, we might feel unprepared for therapy. This could look like:

  • Feeling rushed before or during the session.
  • Feeling overwhelmed during the session.
  • Running out of things to discuss or being unsure of what to discuss.
  • Having too much to discuss during therapy and not having enough time.
  • Getting distracted during therapy.
  • Feeling flooded by our emotions.

Unprepared for Therapy

Therapy is self-care, but it is also hard work. When we are unprepared for therapy, we deprioritize ourselves. It can also have consequences on how useful we find therapy. This can include:

  • Not remember what was discussed in the session.
  • Rupturing our rapport with therapists.
  • Not benefiting from therapy.
  • Ending sessions early.
  • Having shorter sessions than expected.
  • Experiencing an emotional hangover after the session.
  • Dreading or not looking forward to the session.

We benefit the most from therapy when we prepare before therapy, make use of the time we have during therapy, and plan for self-care afterward.

Preparing for Therapy: The Week Before

Preparing for therapy the week prior can look different for everyone. Here are some tips:

  • Journal routinely to help process emotions so you do not become overwhelmed or flooded during/after your session.
  • Write a list of things that come up during the week that you would like to discuss in the session.
  • Ask your therapist for homework, exercises, readings, or journal prompts to complete during the week.
  • Choose a session time that works well for your schedule so you do not feel rushed.

Preparing for Therapy: The Day Of

It can become easy to lose track of time on the day of your therapy appointment. It can be helpful to plan ahead (if you can!). This can include:

  • Identify a few items (1-3) from your list, journaling exercises, or readings you would like to discuss.
  • Plan ahead so you are not rushing or running late.
  • Give yourself a few minutes to settle in before diving into your session (especially if you work and take therapy from home).
  • Plan on how you will practice self-care after the session.

Making the Most of Your Telehealth SessionTelehealth therapy sessions have been very helpful in keeping people safe and also making therapy more accessible for various people. However, it can also introduce distractions for therapy. Here are some things you can do to minimize those distractions:

  • Remove distractions (e.g., turn off notifications).
  • Take your session from a private location.
  • Make sure you have a strong enough internet connection.
  • Set a soothing environment (e.g., light a candle, having tissues).
  • Plan for distractions (e.g., walk the dog beforehand).

Making the Most of Your Telehealth Session

Telehealth therapy sessions have been beneficial in keeping people safe and also making therapy more accessible for various people. However, it can also introduce distractions for therapy. Here are some things you can do to minimize those distractions:

  • Remove distractions (e.g., turn off notifications).
  • Take your session from a private location.
  • Make sure you have a strong enough internet connection.
  • Set a soothing environment (e.g., light a candle, having tissues).
  • Plan for distractions (e.g., walk the dog beforehand).

Making the Most of Your In-Person Session

In-person sessions can make it easier to avoid distractions, but distractions are still possible. Here are some ways to prevent these distractions:

  • Turn your notifications off and put your phone away
  • If you are feeling overwhelmed, tell your therapist so they can help you regulate.
  • If you are feeling stuck, ask your therapist for guidance.
  • Make sure water or tissues are available if needed.
  • Take notes during the session, or have your list present.

Taking Care of Yourself After Therapy

Oftentimes, clients say that they feel overwhelmed or experience “emotional hangovers” after the session. This happens when we disclose too much, the topic is emotionally painful, or we do not properly package things back up. Here are some things you can do:

  • Go for a walk after therapy
  • Take a bath or a shower
  • Eat a filling meal or a favorite snack
  • Practice your hobby
  • Try self-regulation techniques like yoga or meditation
  • Play with your pet

This page is part of the Roamers Therapy Glossary; a collection of mental-health related definitions that are written by our therapists.


While our offices are currently located at the South Loop neighborhood of Downtown Chicago, Illinois, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more. You can visit our contact page to access detailed information on our office location.