What to Talk About in Therapy: 16 Ideas

Consider the following scenario. You have just scheduled your first appointment with a therapist. In a consultation, you discussed what you’re interested in treating. You feel good and proud of yourself for taking this big step. However, there is one problem: you feel unprepared! What can you expect? What will you talk about? 

Understandably, you may feel nervous if this is your first time going to therapy. Being vulnerable with someone you just met can seem intimidating and challenging. But don’t worry! This blog will cover 16 helpful ideas you can use to prepare for your next session. 

What Can You Talk About in Therapy?

You can talk about anything in therapy! Thinking of the past, present, and future can be helpful. You could journal these thoughts in advance. But if you’re not sure, the therapist will help you with the answers to these questions.

  • What brought you here?
  • What are your goals for therapy?
  • How will you know when you have met your goals?

Some of those goals could be increased self-compassion, the ability to manage anxiety, or to connect more effectively with other people. Whether you are just starting therapy or you are in the middle, here are 16 topics you can discuss.

1. Explore Traumatic Events

Talking about traumatic experiences, whether recent or from your past, can be challenging. Your therapist can help you understand how past trauma has affected you and move towards healing by discussing it in a safe and supportive environment.

Your therapist can also provide tools and strategies to help you cope with the pain so you don’t feel consumed by it. By exploring these traumatic events, you can gain insight into why certain thought patterns or behaviors occur and learn how to respond better in the future.

2. Unhealthy Behavior Patterns

It is important to recognize unhealthy patterns of behavior such as substance abuse, self-harm, OCD, or codependency so that we can address them. In therapy, we can explore these patterns to gain insight into why we engage in them and devise a treatment plan to deal with our issues in a more healthy manner.

3. Setting Goals and How to Work Toward Them

A good place to set goals for yourself and make positive changes in your life is in therapy. Talking about your goals and how you plan to achieve them can help you stay accountable and provide support every step of the way.

You can stay motivated on your journey to self-improvement by discussing the progress you’ve made, obstacles you’ve encountered, and adjustments you’ve made.

4. How to Express Emotions in a Safe Space

Being able to express your emotions can be challenging, especially if you haven’t been taught. Therapy can help you identify and recognize your feelings, as well as provide a safe place to do so without judgment or criticism. By understanding why certain events evoke certain emotional responses, your therapist will be able to provide you with the tools necessary to manage them effectively.

5. Identify and Manage Your Triggers

There are a wide variety of triggers that cause intense emotions or behaviors, such as panic attacks. Talking about these in therapy can help us gain insight into why they occur and how to deal with them. You might learn relaxation techniques, tools for grounding yourself, or ways to deal with difficult people.

6. Develop Self-Care Strategies

In order to maintain good mental health, self-care is essential, but it’s not always easy to do. When we discuss self-care strategies in therapy, we can develop a personalized plan for how to take care of ourselves. Establishing systems of support, setting boundaries, or finding activities that help you relax and recharge may be part of this process.

7. Process Grief and Losses

There is no doubt that grief and loss can be stressful topics to discuss and that people may experience PTSD as a result, but talking about them is also a valuable part of the healing process.

During this difficult time, discussing these feelings with your therapist can provide much-needed compassion and understanding. Furthermore, it may enable you to see how things might have been different if the loss had not occurred, and it may help you move forward in a more healthy way.

8. Professional Support & Guidance

No matter what topic you choose to discuss, a therapist provides guidance and insight so that you can better understand yourself and learn strategies for managing difficult emotions and situations in a positive manner.

9. Create a Support System

Talking to a therapist can help build a therapeutic relationship. It helps you identify resources and people in your life who will be able to provide support when needed for both you and your family members or friends.

10. Establishing Healthy Boundaries

Therapists can help you recognize what boundaries are healthy for you and how to set them so that you don’t overcommit yourself or allow others to take advantage of your generosity.

11. Understanding Relationships & Communication Styles

Therapy can also be used to explore relationships with others and communication styles that are most effective for each individual. By doing so, we can identify patterns of behavior that may be causing friction in our relationships and learn how to communicate more effectively.

12. Learn Ways to Combat Stress & Anxiety

If stress and anxiety are not managed properly, they can have a negative impact on our mental health. By talking about ways to cope with stress and anxiety, we can create an action plan for reducing their effects. This could include learning relaxation techniques, going on regular walks, or having positive outlets for expressing emotions.

13. Address Childhood Trauma

Often, childhood trauma is buried deep inside of us, but it can affect our day-to-day lives. Healing from the past and moving forward in a healthier way requires talking about it. By talking about traumatic experiences with a therapist, you can gain insight into how they may affect your current life.

14. How to Recognize Signs of Burnout & Stress

In addition to providing support and guidance, a therapist may be able to suggest strategies for managing burnout or stress in a healthy way. This may involve getting more sleep, exercising regularly, or creating a plan for managing tasks and obligations.

15. Resolving Conflicts & Managing Anger

Therapy sessions can also help you resolve conflicts in your relationships and manage anger more constructively. It may mean identifying triggers, setting more effective boundaries, forming coping strategies, and understanding the best communication styles for each individual.

16. Dangerous, Frightening, or “Taboo” Thoughts

We all experience thoughts that can make us feel ashamed, embarrassed, or scared. Through therapy, we can understand why these thoughts arise and work on managing them more effectively by discussing them in a safe, supportive environment. As a result, we can ultimately reduce their impact on our well-being. Furthermore, we can learn how to challenge negative thinking patterns that contribute to these thoughts.

Final Thoughts

These are just some of the topics that can be discussed in therapy. Remember not to put too much pressure on yourself when going to therapy, there is no right or wrong thing to discuss in therapy. Your therapist is there to support you no matter what topic you choose. Through their guidance and insight, you will gain a deeper understanding of yourself, as well as learn how to deal with difficult emotions or situations. 

If you feel like the support of a therapist could help, contactour Care-Coordinator, and we will answer your questions so you can start prioritizing your mental well-being today!

10 Signs You Are Suffering From Burnout

Recognizing the Warning Signs of Stress Burnout

In today’s fast-paced world, stress has become an all-too-familiar companion in our lives. When stress becomes chronic and overwhelming, it can lead to burnout—a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion. Recognizing the signs of stress burnout is crucial for maintaining our well-being and preventing its detrimental consequences. In this blog, we will explore the key indicators of stress burnout and offer insights into how we can regain balance and vitality.

1. Physical Exhaustion

One of the primary signs of stress burnout is a profound sense of physical exhaustion that persists even after adequate rest. The body’s constant exposure to stress hormones can disrupt sleep patterns, leaving individuals feeling fatigued and drained throughout the day. Frequent headaches, muscle tension, and unexplained aches may also manifest as physical manifestations of burnout.

2. Emotional Detachment

Chronic stress can lead to emotional detachment, characterized by a feeling of emotional numbness or a lack of enthusiasm for activities once enjoyed. Individuals experiencing burnout may find it challenging to connect with others on an emotional level, leading to a sense of isolation and loneliness.

3. Decreased Productivity and Motivation

Stress burnout can take a toll on our cognitive abilities, impairing our focus, memory, and decision-making skills. As a result, productivity at work or in daily tasks may decline, and individuals may find it challenging to maintain their previous levels of motivation.

4. Persistent Negativity and Cynicism

Prolonged exposure to stress can foster a negative outlook on life and the world around us. Those experiencing burnout may become increasingly cynical, finding it hard to see the positive aspects of situations or people. This negative mindset can further perpetuate the cycle of stress and burnout.

5. Withdrawal from Social Interactions

A common sign of stress burnout is withdrawing from social interactions and avoiding gatherings or activities that were once enjoyable. Social isolation can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and exacerbate emotional exhaustion.

6. Changes in Appetite and Sleep Patterns

Stress burnout often disrupts our typical routines, leading to changes in appetite and sleep patterns. Some individuals may experience an increase in emotional eating, leading to weight fluctuations, while others may encounter sleep disturbances like insomnia or oversleeping.

7. Reduced Sense of Accomplishment

As burnout progresses, individuals may start feeling ineffective and experience a reduced sense of accomplishment. Even small tasks may seem insurmountable, contributing to a cycle of self-doubt and further stress.

8. Increased Irritability and Impatience

Stress burnout can manifest as heightened irritability and impatience, causing individuals to become more easily frustrated with themselves and others. These emotional outbursts can strain relationships and exacerbate the feelings of detachment.

9. Neglecting Self-Care

When overwhelmed by stress, self-care activities like exercise, hobbies, or spending time with loved ones may take a back seat. Neglecting self-care further depletes emotional reserves and hampers the ability to cope with stress effectively.

10. Weakened Immune System

Prolonged stress can suppress the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to frequent illnesses and infections. Frequent colds or infections may be indicative of chronic stress taking a toll on the body’s defense mechanisms.


Stress burnout is a pervasive issue that affects countless individuals worldwide, but it is essential to recognize the warning signs before it takes a severe toll on our well-being. Identifying the signs of stress burnout empowers us to take proactive measures to replenish our physical, emotional, and mental health. Engaging in self-care practices, seeking support from loved ones or professionals, and setting realistic boundaries are crucial steps in breaking the cycle of stress burnout and restoring balance to our lives. If you are experiencing any of the signs mentioned above contact us today to speak with our Care-Coordinator, who can match you with one of our expert clinicians. Remember, prioritizing our well-being is not a luxury but a necessity for leading a fulfilling and sustainable life.


Unveiling the Message: What Your Anger is Trying to Tell You

Anger, often perceived as a negative emotion, is a natural response that humans experience from time to time. While it’s easy to label anger as “bad,” it’s essential to recognize that emotions, including anger, serve as signals from our inner selves. Rather than suppressing or dismissing anger, understanding what it’s trying to communicate can lead to personal growth, improved relationships, and emotional well-being. In this blog, we’ll delve into the underlying messages that anger holds and how to harness its power for positive transformation.

1. An Alarm for Boundaries

Anger frequently arises when our personal boundaries are crossed. These boundaries encompass our values, beliefs, and limits we establish to ensure our emotional and physical well-being. When anger surfaces, it could indicate that someone has violated those boundaries. Exploring the source of your anger can help you identify which boundaries have been breached, allowing you to communicate assertively and reinforce those boundaries.

2. Unmet Needs and Desires

Anger can be a signal that your needs and desires are not being fulfilled. It’s a call to pay attention to your inner desires and reflect on what’s missing from your life. Whether it’s a need for respect, validation, or autonomy, acknowledging these feelings can guide you toward making positive changes that align with your aspirations.

3. Injustice and Fairness

Anger often arises in response to perceived injustices or unfair treatment. This emotion can indicate a deep sense of empathy and a desire for a more just world. By exploring the source of your anger, you might uncover a passion for advocating for equality and making a difference in the lives of others.

4. Suppressed Emotions

Unresolved emotions, such as sadness, frustration, or fear, can manifest as anger. If you’ve been avoiding or burying these feelings, anger might be the way your mind is expressing them. Acknowledging and addressing the underlying emotions can lead to a healthier emotional state and a better understanding of yourself.

5. A Call for Self-Care

Prolonged stress or neglecting self-care can lead to heightened irritability and anger. Your anger might be telling you that it’s time to take a step back, evaluate your stressors, and prioritize self-care activities that rejuvenate your mind and body.

6. Communication Breakdown

Anger often arises when communication breaks down. Whether it’s miscommunication, unexpressed feelings, or misunderstandings, your anger might be urging you to address these issues. Learning effective communication skills and expressing your thoughts and emotions can lead to healthier relationships and a more peaceful existence.

7. Fear of Vulnerability

Anger can serve as a defense mechanism, shielding you from feeling vulnerable. It’s often easier to display anger than to admit feelings of hurt or insecurity. Recognizing when your anger is masking deeper emotions can help you embrace vulnerability and foster more authentic connections with others.

8. Past Trauma and Triggers

Past traumatic experiences can lead to heightened anger in certain situations. Your anger might be triggered by events that remind you of those past traumas. Recognizing these triggers and seeking support to address unresolved trauma can lead to emotional healing and a reduction in reactive anger.

Final Thoughts

Anger is a multifaceted emotion that carries invaluable messages if we’re willing to listen. Instead of suppressing or acting on it impulsively, take the time to reflect on what your anger is trying to communicate. By deciphering the underlying messages, you can gain insights into your boundaries, unmet needs, passions, and unresolved emotions. This self-awareness empowers you to respond to anger in constructive ways, fostering personal growth, improved relationships, and enhanced emotional well-being.

If you need help managing anger or figuring out what is causing it, the San Francisco Stress and Anxiety Center can help. Remember, your anger is not your enemy; it’s a messenger guiding you toward a deeper understanding of yourself and the world around you. Contact our Care-Coordinator today to get started.