Returning to Therapy: 4 Steps Before Your First Session

Medically reviewed by: Erika McElroy, Ph.D.
Friday, September 9 2022

If you’ve been to therapy before, you may be wondering if and when it may be time to go back. No matter how long ago you went to therapy, and no matter how long it lasted, you always have the option to return to it. Perhaps you’re experiencing symptoms again, going through a challenging time, slipping back into old habits, or simply feel like therapy could be beneficial to your life now. Therapy can benefit anyone at any time, so you don’t need a specific reason to go back. 

Thinking about going back to therapy, but aren’t sure where to start? Consider taking the following steps: 

1. Identify why you want to go back to therapy

The first step in making your way back to therapy is figuring out your reasons for wanting to return to it. Are you experiencing old symptoms or new symptoms? Are the coping mechanisms you learned in therapy no longer working, or do you just need extra support? Are you experiencing a new life challenge that you aren’t sure how to navigate through? Perhaps you just want a safe space to talk about everyday issues. Thinking about what you want to focus on in therapy can help motivate and prepare you for starting therapy again. 

2. Think about what you want to achieve returning to therapy

In past therapy sessions, you likely set goals together with your therapist for what you wanted to achieve from therapy. Setting goals is a big part of the therapy journey, and returning to therapy is just continuing your journey, so you’ll again set goals with your therapist and work toward achieving them. 

The goals you set may be the same goals you had when you were in therapy before, and you need support achieving them again. Or, they may be new goals based on how you’re feeling or where you’re at in life now.

Think about what you want to achieve in therapy and keep these goals in mind to discuss with your therapist in your first few sessions.

3. Consider contacting your previous therapist 

If you felt your previous therapist was a good fit and you developed a strong therapeutic relationship with them, it’s worth finding out if you can see that same therapist again. Your previous therapist knows your history, experiences, and what you’ve worked on in the past, so it may be easier to get started talking through any new issues with them, rather than starting fresh with a new therapist. 

However, if you have new symptoms, experiences, or concerns, it’s not out of the question that you may discover your previous therapist is no longer a good fit for you. This is okay. If you feel your existing therapist isn’t a good fit after your first few sessions, let them know. They want you to feel better, and can help point you in the right direction to find a therapist that may be a better fit. If you need extra support, SonderMind can help you connect with a therapist that’s right for your needs. 

4. Know this is a courageous decision

It’s not a failure to go back to therapy — it’s a brave choice to reprioritize your mental health.  Taking a break from therapy and returning to it is all part of your therapy journey. It’s okay to feel frustrated and even disappointed. But remember how therapy benefited you in the past, and how it can benefit you now and in the future. Therapy can help you get back on track toward feeling your best and

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