By Joia Pierce | September 27, 2023

Whether you’re a therapy newcomer or a seasoned pro, it’s completely normal to have questions about what behaviors are appropriate while in your appointment. You might find yourself wondering, “Can I snack, sit on the floor, or even open up about feeling hurt by something my therapist said?” Here we’ll explore some common topics, with the aim of inspiring you to reflect on your own personal needs and to share them with your therapist.

Anchored Hope Therapy is a client-centered practice where your therapist will aim to meet you with genuineness and nonjudgement. 

Can I…

…Hug a pillow? Lay down? Sit on the floor? Use a fidget toy, stuffed animal, or coloring book?

Sure! Therapists understand that different people have different needs and ways of coping during sessions, and many of our therapists have supplies in their office for this. Tuning into what helps your physical body feel at ease is a good skill. 

…Step back from difficult topics?

Your emotional well-being is at the forefront of therapy. If you find yourself overwhelmed, it’s completely acceptable to ask for a brief break. This pause can provide time to process, reflect, and regroup before continuing the session. Telling your therapist that a particular topic is triggering you more than they realize, or even that you have had a taxing day and need space in session to recover, can be an opportunity for connection and care. 

…Eat during the session?

Sometimes, therapy sessions fall during meal times. It can be appropriate to have a snack during your session if necessary for your schedule. Moreover, this is an environment where self-care is prioritized. You must be adequately nourished to do the emotional and mental work of self-reflection. If you’re distracted by hunger pangs, brain fog, or what to make for dinner, it can be hard to show up fully and focus on yourself. Ask your therapist what their guidelines are.

…Give my therapist feedback?

Yes, please! Sharing if something doesn’t resonate fosters understanding. If something has not landed well with you, repair or clarification may be needed. The therapeutic relationship can often serve as a mirror to real-life interactions, so although it may be intimidating to vocalize disagreement or hurt, it can ultimately aid in your journey of understanding self and others.

…Bring my child?

Parenting is a significant part of many clients’ lives, and sometimes, childcare arrangements might not align with your session time. Depending on your circumstances, you may need to bring your baby or toddler to session, or ask to reschedule. You may wish to consider factors like if you can concentrate with your kiddo present, if the topics of session are sensitive or disruptive for a child to hear, if it will cause undue stress to find appropriate care for them, and more. 

…Switch to a virtual session?

If you’re unable to attend an in-person session, switching to telehealth for the day can be a practical solution. Virtual sessions maintain the therapeutic connection and provide flexibility, ensuring you can continue the work you’ve started. If you’ve come down with a mild cold, your therapist will appreciate your thoughtfulness in not sharing germs! On the other hand, if you are more physically ill, it would be prudent to reschedule entirely, as rest is essential for your immune system.

…Sign onto a virtual session from the car?

Many people choose to attend appointments from their car for various reasons – it may be convenient, comfortable, or their only available private space. Ensure you have minimal distractions and adequate internet connection, and are safely parked throughout the session.

While in the process of identifying and meeting your needs, it can be helpful to consider what obstacles may have stood in the way before. Have you struggled with vulnerability, considered your comfort to be a burden to others, or assumed you would be judged? Although some of the accommodations listed above may seem straightforward, delving into your personal experiences with them may lead to greater insights in your therapeutic work. It’s important to note that therapists’ preferences regarding session conduct can differ, but through open dialogue you and your therapist can collaboratively define these boundaries. Your journey at Anchored Hope Therapy can involve creating a compassionate environment to promote emotional wellbeing, so try pausing and considering, “what is most helpful for me?”

About The Author

Joia Pierce

My approach to therapy is humanistic and holistic, and centers on building a strong relationship with my clients. Cultivating a warm, authentic, caring relationship is at the core of my work. At the same time, I will challenge you when needed. I believe we are inherently motivated toward personal growth and that therapy with me can serve as a safe environment for that growth. I consider you to be the expert on your life and your lived experiences, so therapy with me means a collaborative approach to your goals. Finally, I understand that our environments impact our mental health. We might consider how family, education/work, gender roles, political systems, marginalization, or cultural values have influenced you. What makes me unique: I am a real person in and out of the therapy office. I use humor and bring in cultural references to my sessions, and you will likely see my pets at some point over telehealth. In showing up as my true self, I invite you to do the same. Additionally, I am committed to working with broader support networks where you and I believe that may be helpful. I am happy to provide additional resources or to refer you to a psychiatrist, nutritionist, or other professionals for adjunct treatment.