Answers To Common Questions About Therapy

Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Erban, LMFT, IMH-E
Updated March 30, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Therapy can be an enriching experience for clients looking to process their feelings, manage mental health difficulties, and face life's challenges. Throughout the course of treatment sessions, it can help you learn more about yourself, develop new skills, and take the next step in life, while maintaining a sense of commitment to your ongoing exploration and personal growth. Opening up to a therapist, however, can be daunting if you’re unsure about what to expect. If you're considering therapy, you may be wondering how to find the right therapist for you, how many sessions you might need, what the different types of therapy are, and how the BetterHelp therapeutic process might meet your special needs. Below, we’re going to answer several common questions about therapy that may give you a better idea of what to expect. 

Concerned About Navigating The Therapeutic Process?

What Are The Most Common Types Of Therapy?

There are a number of therapeutic modalities that your therapist may use. Typically, the type of therapy you’ll participate in will depend on your areas of concern, the methods your therapist typically uses, and the time frame for treatment. 

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

During CBT sessions, the patient typically learns how their thoughts, behaviors, and emotions are connected. They may learn how to identify and replace negative thought patterns that may lead to symptoms of mental health challenges. Weekly sessions, generally spanning a few months, can help individuals practice new skills for managing their symptoms. For example, someone experiencing depression may find they have negative beliefs about their self-worth, which can lead to sadness and other symptoms. Their therapist may then help them improve their self-conception and provide tips for managing depression.

Solution-Focused Brief Therapy

During solution-focused brief therapy, patients usually set and work toward specific goals. When therapists use this type of therapy, they typically try to work toward a future in which the goals have been achieved, as opposed to focusing on the past and current concerns of the individual. Speaking of “how many therapy sessions do I need?” this approach generally involves fewer sessions. During the first therapy session, the therapist might try to find out qualities the individual already possesses that can be used to navigate their specific challenges.

Motivational Interviewing

These therapy sessions are often used with individuals experiencing substance use disorder or those living with health conditions such as diabetes. This style of therapy known for its effectiveness, is often employed to help people find the internal motivation they need to make long-lasting changes and maintain recovery from their challenges. 

How Do I Know Whether Therapy Is Right For Me?

There are a number of reasons why someone might find it beneficial to work with a therapist.

You do not have to be experiencing a mental health condition to seek therapy. Therapy can be a useful outlet for expressing your emotions, a tool that helps you improve communication skills, or an avenue for overall self-improvement.

Reasons a person may have started therapy include:

  • General emotional support and/or help working toward personal goals

  • Help with mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, and eating disorders

  • Stress management

  • Assistance with relationship concerns, marriage counseling, or premarital counseling

  • Help with moving through life transitions and challenging times, such as grief, loss, a move, or a divorce

  • Career counseling

How Long Does Therapy Last?

The process of therapy can differ from person to person, and the number of therapy sessions that a person will need can vary extensively based on the individual, their areas of concern, and the therapeutic modality being used. The severity of their issues also matters. For example, on average, individuals participating in CBT attend around 16 sessions, while solution-focused brief therapy may only take five sessions, depending on the risk involved in their situation. There’s no wrong number of sessions. 

Sometimes, a person achieves their goals after a handful of therapy sessions. For example, if a couple is attending marriage counseling, they may not need to continue going to therapy once they have resolved the root of their conflict and learned the necessary skills to avoid the same challenges going forward. However, Other times, other individuals may need more extensive mental health care or support, as may be the case for those with ongoing mental health conditions or other persistent concerns.

Therapists typically believe that there should be an endpoint for therapy, but the matter of when it ends may vary. There are some instances, however, where that might not be in the best interest of the client. People who have severe mental health concerns, for example, may continue to benefit from therapy indefinitely. 

What Happens During A Therapy Session?

The specifics of the therapeutic process depend on a number of factors, such as the reasons you’re attending therapy, the modality your therapist uses, and the presence of other participants (e.g., in family therapy or couples therapy). Some examples of activities you might participate in during a therapy session include:

  • Reflecting on your week or discussing how life has been since your previous session

  • Talking about what has gone well recently or what you would like to work on right now

  • Asking your therapist questions

  • Learning new coping skills or tools that you can use outside of therapy

  • Brainstorming solutions for a problem that you run into in your daily life

  • Role-playing

Your therapy sessions will likely look different depending on how far along you are. For example, your first session will typically include goal setting, a discussion of your background, and a conversation about how future sessions will look, while later sessions may be more focused on checking on your progress. 

Concerned About Navigating The Therapeutic Process?

How Do I Find The Right Therapist?

Before choosing a new or different therapist to work with, it can be helpful to do some research. You can look for a therapist who has experience in the area of mental health that you’d like to address. For example, if you live with obsessive-compulsive disorder, then consider narrowing your search to therapists who specialize in this area. You’ll also likely want to find a therapist you are comfortable with. It's ok to request a free consultation to find out whether you are a good fit. This can save both of you time in the long run. If it’s not a good fit, you can change therapists.

When looking for a therapist, you may also want to know whether your insurance covers any treatment. Some plans cover a certain number of sessions. If you have this information, you can talk to your therapist and ask if any treatment options will be a good fit for the coverage that you have. You might also want to make sure the provider is licensed. You can usually find this information by asking the therapist directly, doing a web search, or working with an online platform that vets its mental health professionals. 

What Are The Benefits Of Online Therapy?

Studies show that online therapy can be useful for addressing a number of mental health concerns. A study that focused on online therapy for college students found that treatment could produce significant reductions in symptoms of common mental disorders, with greater improvements being achieved as more online sessions were conducted. Online therapy was found to treat stress, depression, insomnia, and social anxiety disorder in the students. Researchers noted that the combination of therapist support with specific lessons led to significant positive outcomes. Apart from not being able to see your therapist face-to-face and appreciate the therapy room design, online therapy is still a good option to pick.

If you’re ready to start therapy, a platform like BetterHelp can connect you with a licensed therapist who fits your needs and preferences. BetterHelp works with thousands of qualified mental health professionals—practicing across a range of specialties—so you can be matched with someone experienced in your specific areas of concern. Online therapy is also an affordable option—BetterHelp subscriptions start at $60 per week (billed every four weeks), and you can cancel anytime. A mental health provider can answer any questions you have about therapy and guide you through the process so that it’s a fulfilling, healthy experience. 

Read below for reviews of BetterHelp therapists from those who have sought help.

Therapist Reviews

“I swear he’s the best therapist I ever had. I know I’m a person who talks a lot but he lets me talk, he actively listens, and he relates to me a lot. He understands my situations and provides me with excellent advice when it comes to how to respond to my difficult situations. He always gives me assurance and support and I truly appreciate him. He is strong support for me right now when it comes to my mental and emotional issues.”

“Kathryn has been an ever-present source of stability and calm during a few tumultuous years. She never fails to show up and be 100% there for you during sessions. She is very mailable and will act as your mirror, friend, guide, or counsel, depending on what you need from her. I feel very lucky to have worked with her.” 


Choosing to work with a therapist is a decision that can have lasting positive impacts on your life. Whatever you’re going through, you don’t have to navigate it alone. To find out more about the process and benefits of online therapy, consider getting matched with a licensed therapist through a platform like BetterHelp. You deserve thorough, supportive mental health care and the emotional well-being that can come with it. Take the first step and reach out to BetterHelp today.

For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started