Most people start up therapy because they know what they want to talk about.
Even if it takes them awhile to learn to open up to a therapist, they have an underlying idea of why they’re there.
However, you might be involved in ongoing therapy, and eventually get to the point where you’re wondering what to talk about in therapy, or maybe you have come to therapy for an initial purpose, but are wondering if it’s appropriate to explore other topics of conversation in therapy.
And the answer to what to talk about in therapy is…whatever you want!
It’s the place where you can truly explore your innermost thoughts and feelings, and anything goes. This even goes for if you’re doing online therapy using something like Talkspace.
Your therapist will have a duty of care in some countries to report cases of abuse or to get you further help if you are having thoughts of harming yourself, but even then, these protections are there for you and those around you, not because you’re not allowed to say what you want in therapy.
If you are wondering what you can say in therapy, here are some examples.
Everyone put on your favorite overthinking shirt and let’s get going.
1. Your Childhood
Your childhood is one of the most common things people think about when they think about what to talk about in therapy.
And it’s true, many therapy sessions in certain modalities will revolve around your childhood and how you were parented or what your experience was like, as this can majorly affect you in the future.
Not all therapists dwell on the childhood.
But if you want to talk about it, you should feel more than able to bring up anything from your past and maybe things you still hold onto from your childhood experiences.
2. Your Relationships
Whether it’s with your mom, brother, husband, friend, teacher, coach or someone else, therapy is a great way to explore your thoughts and feelings about your relationships.
You can tell your therapist about relationships that are going well, relationships that are not going well, and work to uncover any issues in your relationships and how you can work towards fixing them.
If you’re not in couples counseling and are in the therapist’s office by yourself, you will likely focus more on what you can do in the relationship to better things.
Not only can you not control other people, but the lack of that person in the room to talk about their side of it means that it’s not much use if your therapist just says “oh yes, your boyfriend should be nicer.”
Instead, they’ll focus on why you feel he’s not nice, why do you accept him not being nice to you, how do you interpret his actions to be not nice, and the list goes on. You’ll learn to put yourself first in a relationship and be patient in a relationship.
Relationships are one of the most significant reasons people start therapy, so don’t hold back!
3. How Events Made You Feel
Whether you want to talk about your feelings about your grandmother’s death or your perpetual anxiety caused by a traumatic life event, your feelings about events in the world and in your life are totally fair game.
More importantly to remember, you don’t just have to explain what happened, you can talk about how you felt about it.
In some ways, the actual events are less important than your reactions to them and how you responded.
4. Significant Life Events
From upcoming weddings to funerals to having a baby, use therapy to talk about significant life events and how to cope with the negative ones and how to make the most of the positive ones.
These are the events that leave their mark on us and truly become part of our story. Use your session to engage with these events and what they mean in your life, as well as
5. Insignificant Life Events
In therapy, you can talk about whatever you want, which includes insignificant life events! Did you get a text from a friend?
Did you take the dog for a walk for the first time?
Did you go to Costco and it was rammed?
You don’t just have to talk about the heavy hitters.
You can talk about the little stuff, too. Chances are that if it’s on your mind as something to talk about or comes out randomly while you’re talking, it’s something that has some sort of meaning to you that can be talked about.
6. How Your Day Went
For some people, therapy is a chance to talk about the day to day.
Sure, you can delve into the deeper stuff at times, but it might be that you just really need to vent because your kids are driving you nuts and your coworkers are not being helpful or you’re frustrated because the store was out of your favorite type of pasta.
When a therapist asks, “how are you?” we don’t always tend to revert to the childhood trauma.
Instead, we start with the “how are you?” in the present, and that includes how your day is going!
7. What You’re Worried About
Wondering what to talk about in therapy?
Make a list of your worries and bring them in.
We all worry about something, whether it’s finances, major anxieties about your health or wellness, how other people think about us, the future, etc.
If you’re at a loss for what to talk about in therapy, start there.
Not only does voicing your worries make them seem easier to deal with, but your therapist can help you come up with strategies and ways to cope.
8. What You’re Happy About
Therapy doesn’t have to be doom and gloom!
You’re more than welcome to talk about what you’re happy about in therapy.
Maybe you’ve reached a milestone, maybe something is going right in your relationships, maybe you’ve had a good day.
Your therapist isn’t going to tell you you’re wasting time by talking about what you’re happy about – they’ll celebrate with you!
If you find yourself spending most of your sessions talking about what you’re happy about, that’s a sure sign that you’re on the right track and moving forward.
9. What You Regret
We all have regrets. Maybe you didn’t make the right decisions on where to live, move, go to college, or who you were in a relationship with or any number of things.
These can weigh on us as we go about our day, and sometimes it’s important to voice what we feel didn’t go right in our life or what we wish we could change so we can move on from it.
Talking about your regrets in therapy is super common, and if those are on your mind, feel free to talk about them.
10. What You Like About Yourself
While many people go to therapy to fix the things they don’t like about themselves, you’re equally allowed to talk about your strengths and what you do like about yourself.
Your therapist will never turn down a chance for you to raise your self-esteem and show some self-worth!
Talk about what you have done lately that you’re proud of, or what you feel you’re good at, and use that to really build yourself up and engage with other topics in your life.
11. What You Don’t Like About Yourself
Okay, yes, it’s true, therapy is used by a lot of people to talk about what they don’t like about themselves, and many people struggle with low self-esteem issues.
Bring up what you don’t like about yourself in therapy so you can get to the root of that feeling or bad habits and why you behave certain ways or react certain ways.
The therapist can help you either come to terms with who you are and appreciate yourself or they can help you change the behaviors that you need to change.
12. Random Thoughts That You’ve Had
Seriously, you can talk about anything in therapy.
It doesn’t have to fit into a category, and it can really just be a random thought that you’ve had or something really random that you experienced.
You might not even know why that random thought came into your head or why you felt the need to say it, but your therapist won’t care!
Let your mind flow and express what you want to express, no matter how much it feels like it doesn’t connect to what you’re currently talking about or how weird you think it is.