Do you prepare before your therapy session?


New Here
I usually bring a piece of paper to therapy where I’ve outlined thoughts, questions and concerns. It’s nice to refer to my notes, especially because my mind goes blank so easily.

But lately I wonder if I’m controlling the session too much. I’m times I am anticipating what my next words are rather than listening to any input my therapist my have. I’m wondering if I’d have a more successful session if I just eat what’s on my mind in the moment.
What do you all do?


With normal therapy, I always prepared.

With trauma therapy I’ve usually been too stress sick to do more than maaaaybe get there.

The only exception to that (prepared for trauma therapy) being when my attorney prepared the outline of what I would need to be able to talk about. Which isn’t actually my preparing, so much as my handing a sheaf of paperwork someone else prepared.


I prepare by reading through my journal and during the week thinking about what topic I want to talk about. Sometimes that works.
I'm not sure there is a right or wrong way to do it?

Do you stop yourself saying things you want to say in therapy? If you don't, then it's all good? If you do, then maybe examine that with your therapist?

I sometimes ask my therapist if "I am doing it right", because I've not been in therapy before I don't really know how it all works.


i do prepare. usually that i have an idea of what i wish to discuss before hand. or i have made a list of some kind of what ever is going on in the week.

and then have narrowed that down to what ever i actually need assistence with. (for me there is no purpose of talking of things that i am already doing all right with!)

but i have felt the need of maximizing efficiency with the thereapy. with which it is not always the best manuver to do. i find it hard to go in there and sit and just talk off the top off my head.

when that happens. it usually happens of that i do not say any thing. because i am nervous. so it is better to make a plan of things. (for me.)


Not Active
I think of what I want to say but as soon as I am in therapy, I find the mere presence of the therapist, I talk about something completely different - always - I find this annoying and fascinating. What I find that works much better for me though is to write down few statements after each session. Because I speak freely during therapy (or from dissociated states), when I look back the words I said or words/questions from the therapist, I find I can do a great interpretation of my state of mind - often realizing the exact area of emotions or states of mind I was struggling to explain or understand or was unable to connect.


I do a mixture of preparation and being lead by what happens. Some weeks I don’t prepare anything and we go back to working on some things that are too taxing to deal with in one session . But also sometimes- reasonably often- we start talking about one thing and something else comes up . Something might land differently than I expected or I might rush past something I don’t think is an issue and my Therapist asks something about it and it just HURTS in a way i didn’t acknowledge before.

I have noticed recently we are revisiting some things and I feel less restricted about ways forward - so going over the same stuff a few times months or years apart is useful to me too.

I also think there are things I cannot plan - if I am unwell or in pain or finding it hard to not ‘float away’ into disassociation things arise in a different way to when I am together . Together might seem more useful but I find being ‘not together’ though more difficult- actually reveals some things more easily - as if the cracks are open wider .

so - I guess I’m saying I recommend some unplanned or loosely planned sessions even though they feel quite terrifying initially.


I do a mix. When I was young and going the more cognitive behavioral route I definitely planned and brought things to discuss. These days part of what I am learning is to be ok being a bit spontaneous. I tend to write a few things that came up for me related to last session. Other times something specific in my life (work stress, life stress, etc) comes up so I will make note to talk about that.

I see the value both being organized about what I want to talk about and with letting my therapist guide things a bit more. I also talk to her about that. I have been with her for over a year, it was about at the year more than I felt comfortable showing up with a less concrete agenda.

I think either way is useful. Try not to judge yourself too harshly on "how" you do therapy. You are showing up. You care enough to think about what you would like to talk about. Maybe it would be good to do some unplanned sessions. Then again maybe not. If I had pushed myself too soon I don't think I would have made all the progress I have. It helped when I felt comfortable talking to my therapist about it. Then she knew that it was overwhelming for me to just go with the flow and could be supportive and help me avoid pushing too fast.


I always make notes throughout the week and then take them with me on my phone. I look at them before I go in and have a list of topics in my head of what happened that week. It's nice to have info on my phone in case I forget something, which I do a lot.

As far as preparing something to talk about for the session, no, I don't normally do that. We just review the week and talk about it a bit and then go into the EMDR processing. If I'm having a bad week, then we may spend the hour talking about that and working on it.
Normally if I don't prepare, nothing gets done. I spend the whole hour just shooting the shit with T. That can be nice sometimes, but it's not incredibly helpful if I have things to work through.

On the other hand if I'm going to do EMDR, I try not to prepare very much or think a lot about the target I'm working on since I want to keep an open mind to anything that comes up.


I prepare a numbered list of things to discuss....I make an email all week and send it a day or two before my session....the notes sheet could be short(just a couple of things)....or could be long (like a full page)....and I email the things to discuss when I get there....and sometimes I add things that are positive that happened, to unwind or that would be grounding to discuss at the case the other things were on the stressful/dissociative side. My therapist prints it out....and refers to it and uses it if things go stale in the conversation.....or if there is stuff that looks like needs reviewing. This works well, since I'll forget things I'd have liked to talk about....but if I'm processing trauma, that kind of takes the front seat in those cases, and we don't always get to all of the list if it was kinda long.