Therapists are people who help people understand and institute change in their lives. Many men and women have become therapists out of a desire to help other individuals with their struggles. Therapists go by many names including counselor, social worker, psychologist, and more. Finding a therapist that is right for you can make a huge difference in your quality of life. You can read more below to find out more about selecting the right style of therapist for your needs.
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Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn, LMFT, MA
What is a therapist?
A licensed therapist is a mental health professional that can work with individuals, couples, families, or groups in a therapeutic setting. Therapists have extensive schooling and training that allows them to do the deep, meaningful work that is therapy. There are many different kinds of therapists, and there are many different kinds of therapy. For example, there are marriage and family therapists, pediatric therapists, sex therapy, and people who specialize in specific conditions such as substance use disorder or eating disorders. Regardless of the issues they treat, therapists are skilled professionals who care about their clients. Specialized therapists include: licensed therapist, behavioral therapist, marriage family therapist, cognitive therapies and therapists, cognitive behavior therapy specialist, and therapeutic relationship specialist. Choosing a therapist sometimes comes down to the types of therapist you require or need. For some, an online therapy session can work, whether it is with a marriage family therapist or a type of therapist that practices psychotherapy. Sometimes therapists work in a therapy group and others independently. Regardless, it can be easier than you think to find a therapist for your individual needs.
What does a marriage and family therapist do?
A licensed marriage and family therapist or LMFT is a mental health provider that provides family therapy. Family counseling or therapy occurs when family members see a licensed marriage and family therapist or counselor collectively to work through conflict or concerns within the family. Family relationships can be complicated, but seeing a therapist can help. Family counseling is nothing to be ashamed of, and it doesn't mean that your family is broken. Seeking family counseling simply means that you're dedicated to improving your familial bonds and that you care about having the best relationship possible with your loved ones. To find a therapist who works as a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist or LMFT, you can contact your insurance, if you have or are choosing to use insurance, or you can search online at reputable websites and filter for the type of license, in this case LMFT, you are looking for.
Be sure to communicate with your therapist so that your therapist helps you in the best way possible. Therapist requirements are simple, they typically need your insurance information to cover the therapy cost, however, some therapists do not take insurance. If you do not have insurance but your therapist takes insurance, you can work out a plan with them so that they can be paid for their services. Most therapists will provide affordable therapy to those who need it. If you’re concerned that you may not be able to find a local LMFT, do not fret! Marriage family therapist professionals are one the most common therapy treatments around. A quick internet search will help you to find a licensed therapist or online therapy practitioner.
What are some of the different kinds of therapy?
There are many different kinds of therapy. Some of the therapy types you may have heard of are CBT, DBT, EMDR, art therapy, music therapy, ACT, and more. A therapist may specialize in one or more kinds of therapy. The kind of therapy that you pursue and find helpful will be based heavily on the concerns that you are seeking help for. If you do not like your first therapist or the first form of therapy that you receive, don't give up. You can always try another therapy modality or see another mental health professional.
When should you see a therapist?
You can see a therapist for a variety of concerns. Maybe, you are diagnosed with a mental health condition, and you are hoping to develop new coping skills to use to manage the condition. Perhaps, you have family or relationship concerns and can use a marriage family therapist. It could even be that you are experiencing a high level of stress due to work or school and need someone to talk to; a therapist helps in these situations too. Seeing a therapist or counselor is an excellent way to gain insight because they serve as an objective third-party that will support you in coming to conclusions about any life concerns you're facing. The more you communicate with your therapist and consider the advice the therapist tells you, the more your therapist helps.
What does it take to become a therapist?
If you want to become a therapist, there is a lot of schooling in your future. Licensure will vary from state to state, as will the number of hours of supervised practice needed to become a therapist. If you want to become a therapist, you will almost certainly have to get a master's degree at minimum. When you are looking for a new therapist and are preparing to see them for the first time, it is likely a good idea to check and see what their credentials are. This can help you gain an understanding of the level of education they've received and the knowledge that they have.
Do therapists ever see a therapist?
Yes! A therapist, just like anyone else, needs help from time to time. Being a therapist is an incredibly rewarding job, but it also comes with a lot of stressors. Many therapists have to deal with insurance companies and may face high fees for private practice offices. They also have family and relational difficulties just like everyone else. The best thing about going to therapy is that you get to talk to someone who will keep your information private. The therapy cost of a therapist such as a psychologist is lucrative for the support that you will get, as a counselor or not.
To find a therapist, you can pursue the same avenues as anyone else; you can also seek online therapy or look for the specific type of therapist that can meet your needs.
If you're interested in seeing a therapist, you can find someone in your local area, or you can work with an online counselor. The online counselors at ReGain are here to work with you and help you flourish in your life and relationships. Online counseling is often more affordable than traditional in-person counseling, which is why many people decide to try working with a therapist remotely. Additionally, online therapy allows you to talk to a licensed provider from the privacy of your own home. Don't be afraid to reach out and talk to someone at ReGain today.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What does a therapist do?
A therapist is a licensed mental health professional that treats mental health challenges and helps people improve their lives. Furthermore, they provide managed care for several kinds of psychological issues. Of course, the differences between a therapist and a psychotherapist are clear; however, there are some similarities in the services they render.
A therapist provides talk therapy to a variety of individuals and groups struggling with a wide range of concerns related to mental health, interpersonal relationships, life events or stressors, and more. A therapy group or group therapy is a common way to seek treatment and allows you to share your experience with others who have dealt with things that you have been through. Sex addicts, those experiencing bereavement, those with disabilities, and other groups of people seek out a therapist or counselor for group therapy. You can find a therapist for these groups at local hospitals or social services centers. Online therapy is also an option for group therapy. You can find therapists in community centers, private practice settings, in residential or inpatient facilities such as those for substance abuse, and you can work with a therapist remotely online. Often, you will see a licensed counselor or therapist in schools and universities as well.
You don't have to have a mental illness to see a therapist, but many people with a diagnosable condition see a therapist. Some therapists and social workers work to help inmates or have a job in a hospital setting. Therapists, social workers, and counselors work with people of all ages, backgrounds, sexualities, and genders. If you find yourself experiencing significant stress, are struggling with relationships or family dynamics, have a mental illness or think that you might, or think that you could benefit from talking to someone for any other reason, seeing a mental health professional can help.
It is common that therapists;
- Analyze issues
- Comfort clients
- Provide mental health diagnosis
- Put events from the past beside the present
- Help clients’ combat problems including depression.
- Promote understanding in clients and their state of health
- Instill emotional, cognitive and communication skills
- Teach clients behavioral patterns (as in a behavioral therapist) and how to resolve conflicts.
- Help clients accept themselves with love
- Refer clients to professional counselors when needed
- Teach clients how to provide social support when needed
- Refer clients to psychiatrists, facilities etc. that prescribe medications if appropriate
- Reduce the stigma of therapy by providing options including forming a therapy group.
In treating several mental disorders, therapists provide systematic techniques to individuals by applying family systems theories to family problems and psychotherapeutic techniques for psychotherapy counseling. Such terms are used by professionals under the field of psychology. Titles for the professionals could include family counselor, behavioral therapist, social workers, psychoanalysts’ etc. To become a therapist, an individual must pursue a master’s or doctorate degree in psychology or social work. Hence the necessity for licensing according to the state’s regulations. You can find a therapist or work therapists may be seen in;
Private practice- online or anywhere where they can do their work anywhere and anytime
Community centers- where they work with clients of underprivileged communities and circumstances. For instance, clients with issues like depression addiction and anxiety disorder.
Military facilities- providing military personnel and helping them deal with mental and emotional disorders related to their occupation.
Schools, colleges and Universities- working with students that need to talk to a therapist or require the assistance of professional counselors. Many of these practices offer unlimited messaging therapy, as they understand the demographics and ways these students prefer to communicate.
Organizations- in certain businesses and corporate organizations, behavior therapists are hired to assess the behavioral patterns or response of workers to certain events. Therefore, therapists provide mental health services in relation to administrative or leadership positions.
Hospitals or mental health clinics- federal health centers as well as privately owned hospitals etc.
In a bid to accommodate clients, therapists may provide managed care on weekends and in the evenings. Online therapy is also an option. Contact a therapist or find a therapist who can meet your needs. There are many different types of therapists for all types of issues and groups of people. One of the most common therapists are marriage family therapist professionals. You can find a therapist in nearly every town in the country or another option is to seek out online therapy.
Is there a difference between a psychologist and a therapist?
In the context of their names, the differences between a therapist and a psychologist suggests that the former provide therapy while the later deals with psychology. However in the context of health related challenges especially when it's mental health related, their work is different. If you decide to go to talk therapy, there are a variety of different mental health professionals you may encounter. You may see mental health counselors, therapists, psychologists, or social workers for talk therapy. You might also see a psychiatrist if you choose to take medication or want to get evaluated for a mental illness by a psychiatrist. For all guidance regarding medication, please consult a licensed medical professional.
If you decide to attend talk therapy, you might not even know what kind of professional you're seeing unless you look at the abbreviated title by their name. When it comes to the difference between a therapist and a psychologist, the most notable difference is that psychologists have the ability to diagnose and treat a mental health condition. In contrast, a therapist or licensed professional counselor cannot diagnose a client. Unlike a psychiatrist, however, a psychologist cannot prescribe medication. This is because a psychiatrist is a medical doctor with a medical degree, but a psychologist is not. Again, a psychologist could work a lot on research more. So, some mental health professionals use the term for themselves to imply their educational background.
Additionally, while most professionals who offer mental health services must attend graduate school, a psychologist may have a higher level of education than a therapist or counselor. A counselor will have a degree in counseling or psychology, and a therapist will almost always have a master's degree. A therapist must undergo extensive schooling, licensure exams, and supervised practice. The process of licensure for a psychologist, therapist, or counselor is lengthy to make sure that they have the skills they need. A psychologist is more likely to have a doctoral degree than a therapist, though a therapist can also obtain a doctoral degree. If you see a psychologist, it's likely that they will have PsyD or Ph.D. by their name. A psychologist can also conduct research as a career path.
Every mental health professional, including licensed professional counselors, social workers, psychiatrists, a psychologist, and a therapist, are essential to our communities. All of these professionals have a good understanding of human behavior, and when it comes to finding the right therapist or psychologist, the right fit for you will be highly individual.
What are the 3 types of therapy?
There are many different types of therapist professions and forms of therapy. Three common types of therapy that we hear about are cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoanalytic or psychodynamic therapy, and client-centered therapy. However, the list does not end there. There are far more than three types of mental health therapy or talk therapy, including art therapy, music therapy, EMDR, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and dialectical behavioral therapy or DBT. Other forms of mental health care include family systems therapy, emotionally focused therapy (EFT), biofeedback therapy, and hypnotherapy. The form of therapy that you attend depends heavily on what you were going to therapy for, what you've tried in the past, if you're going on individually or with other people, and so on.
Psychoanalytic therapy- this kind of treatment is commonly known but may be misunderstood for psychological testing of tests therapy. The concept of any system providing psychoanalytic therapy is founded by Sigmund Freud. The Austrian neurologist, known as the founder of psychoanalysis developed the technique of talk therapy. Talk therapy involves the use of transference, free association, and dream interpretation. When working with a therapist in this category, expect provision of patterns or significant events that seem to play a role in the current situation.
Psychoanalysts hold beliefs that childhood events and interaction in correlation with unconscious feelings and motivations has a role in mental challenges and behaviors. Although the method has seen many criticisms by scientists who believe that the technique is time consuming and expensive, many people disagree with the thought, rather they claim that it is an effective form of therapy. Sigmund’s expansion of the concept led therapists to employ empathetic environments where the client is not judged but enjoys the freedom of expression. The therapy is a form of good for a variety of conditions including depression;
- Weight loss
- Emotional disorders
- Binge eating
- Somatic problems sleep disorders
Cognitive-behavioral therapy- CBT focuses on specific complications because a behavioral therapist believes that irrational thinking may cause dysfunction. It is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment that enables individuals to identify and change their thought patterns. The object of this therapy is to identify, challenge, and replace negative thoughts with objective and realistic ones. Since it focuses on helping people overcome thoughts, it employs strategies like role-playing, play therapy, mental distractions, relaxation and journaling. People feeling anxious, have panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, esteem issues, experience binge eating and other related conditions could benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. You can also find a therapist for cognitive behavioral therapy CBT either locally or through an online therapy support website. A therapist online is just as trained as an in-person therapist and these therapists work with folks to offer support and advice during challenging times.
Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT provides psychotherapy examination and could be a short-term treatment option depending on the kind of treatment. It is shown to effectively assist individuals to overcome maladaptive behaviors. Sometimes, cognitive and behavioral approaches are infused while treating a condition. Hence, a behavior therapist could help focus on specific behaviors.
Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT can be good for people that deal with anxiety and phobias, mood disorders like bipolar disorder depression, eating disorders, substance disorders, schizophrenic symptoms etc. It’s a very popular therapy that has been studied extensively, which is one of the reasons that it’s regarded as a good therapy to pursue for so many different conditions. We know that cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is a good therapy or a therapeutic fit for those with anxiety, depression, and so many other mental health disorders based on research - not just a hunch. Statistics on cognitive behavioral therapy and anxiety, for example, show why it’s often considered the best type of therapy or the first line treatment for the condition.
Cognitive therapy- identifies and replaces inaccurate thought patterns, emotional responses and behaviors. You can find a therapist who provides cognitive therapy in any psychologist's practices. Oftentimes these therapists find out what is going on with a patient and then provide services to best assist them.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) –looks out for thoughts and behaviors while incorporating strategies like emotional regulation and mindfulness into the activities of the client.
Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT)- uses the identification of irrational beliefs by actively changing them and ultimately, learning to recognize and change the patterns.
Client-centered therapy or humanistic therapy- the humanistic approach is based on the belief that you’re the best person that understands your needs, experiences, emotions and desires. Therefore, working with a therapist to see things through your eyes and mind is inevitable. This form of therapy involves offering guidance, support and help without interpreting your feelings for you. You could see a child therapist or family therapy therapist for matters concerning a child and the entire family. Work therapists help you move towards your goal for the particular event so you may spend time exploring several ways to achieve the purpose. When you find the right therapist, they have the utmost positive regard. They accept you even if they disagree on certain things. They actively listen while you are in control.
Existential therapy—a philosophical approach. Consider concepts like responsibility for choices and freedom to make choices.
Person-centered therapy—works from an emotional distress standpoint. Meaning that this form of therapy believes that emotional distress could come from criticism or disapproval of choices. Thus, making self-acceptance challenging.
Gestalt therapy—where you examine and thrash out unresolved issues in relationships. If it’s between couples, a marriage family therapist is ideal based on how it affects your emotional well-being. Gestalt therapy involves role-playing, acting, movements or visualization.
Who needs a therapist?
Anyone can see a therapist. You can see a therapist for a variety of concerns, including:
- Relationship issues or concerns related to social relationships
- Mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder, personality disorders, eating disorders, anxiety, or depression
- Familial issues
- Life transitions
- Confidence building
- Difficulty coping with emotions
- Grief or loss
- Stress management
- Grief of breakups
Therapy finding is also ideal for when you're looking to develop new coping skills, work through a divorce, prepare for a healthy marriage through premarital counseling, and more. If you’re considering therapy, you may be drawing back because of cost or stigmatization. However, to find the right therapist for you, you don’t need to leave your comfort zone. You may use online methods searching for reliable organizations online. Therapy requires total transparency with work therapists in order to give you a rewarding experience. In therapy;
- You learn more about yourself
- Move you closer to achieving your goals
- Opens you to improvement and better health.
If you don’t find the right therapist at first, consider opting for free phone sessions to help you through your decisions.
It's important to note that there are also child and adolescent therapists who work with a wide range of modalities to serve children and teens specifically in addition to therapists that work with adults. People can seek therapy at any age. A common type of therapy used by child and adolescent therapists for young children is play therapy, but other modalities are used for children as well.
What should I not tell my therapist?
There's nothing that you shouldn't tell your therapist. When you go to talk therapy, you are there to talk about what's on your mind. People attend therapy and other forms of mental health treatment to talk about and get help for a wide range of concerns, including substance abuse or substance use disorder, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, depression eating disorders, and more. People may also attend therapy to talk about stress management, difficulty with interpersonal relationships with friends and family, romantic relationships, and more. Anything that is affecting your day to day life is something that you can talk about with a therapist. Your privacy is important to a therapist, and there are, in fact, laws in place to protect your privacy whether you see a therapist remotely or in person. A therapist will never relay anything you say in talk therapy outside of your therapy sessions.
Are therapists worth it?
If you’re considering therapy, you’re not alone. Even though the cost may seem pricey but getting over a pressing concern and achieving amazing results is better. So, if you’re wondering, therapists are absolutely worth it. Research indicates that therapy is highly effective for a variety of mental health conditions and that it benefits couples and families who go through couples therapy and family therapy. Group therapy is also well-studied and effective. Research indicates that therapy helps people cope with stress and grief, among a wide range of other concerns. Finding the right therapist is important. To get the most effective therapy, you will want to find a therapist that suits your needs and who understands you. The first therapist you see won't always be the right fit. Although it's entirely possible to get a fantastic fit the first time around, if you don't, you can always ask to switch or go about finding the right therapist by looking into providers yourself.
To find a therapist, there are a variety of routes you can take. You can find a therapist by searching the internet for, "find a therapist near me," by using a "find a provider" tool or registry such as the one on the American Psychological Association website, or you can find a therapist by asking your doctor or another healthcare provider for a referral. Another way to find a therapist is to contact your insurance company and see who they cover. If you want to find a therapist who practices remotely, you can find a therapist who offers remote sessions near you, or you can go through an online therapy website like ReGain.
Therapy provides emotional relief. There’s a saying that goes like “a problem shared is half-solved”. Speaking to someone gives you both immediate and long-lasting relief.
A personal investment. Therapy finding is a means of seeking personal growth. Through therapy, you can experience great improvements in relationships, habits, work and physical health. For example, therapy for depression could help you heal and lead you to find a greater purpose in life.
A boost for your income. When you find the right therapist, it could mean a boost for your income. A certain study in the UK found that therapy increased the income of men by 13% as a result of expression. While it increased for women by 8%.
Healthy relationship tools. Whether you seek individual therapy or couples therapy, various types of therapy have the potential to help you form and maintain healthy relationships. If you do attend couples therapy, you will work on this with your partner, where if you attend individual therapy instead of couples therapy to work on issues related to interpersonal relationships, you will likely find that your relationships benefit from therapy.
Familial relationships. Family therapists can help families work through a number of issues. For example, families might seek family therapists for family therapy when they are going through a transition, such as a divorce, when they want to learn to support a loved one with a mental health condition, or when there are frequent arguments or unhealthy dynamics occurring within the family. A family therapist helps families work together and function healthily as a unit. There are different types of family therapists, and there are different types of therapy that can be used in family therapy. Family therapy involves a family unit attending therapy together, where individual counseling is a one on one therapy treatment, and couples counseling is a form of therapy treatment where a couple attends therapy together.
Again, there are many different ways to find a therapist. If you are looking for a counselor in your area and are conducting an online search, you can simply search terms like “licensed marriage and family therapist find a therapist near me,” “marriage and family therapists therapists near me,” “certified therapist family therapist family therapy,” or “licensed marriage and family therapists therapists near me” using your search engine of choice. The specific search term you’ll use will depend on what type of therapist you want to find. For example, if you are looking for a child and adolescent therapist, you may search, “therapist child and adolescent.” If you’re searching for “therapy how to find therapists” with no avail, you can also find counseling psychotherapy directories on various websites. Another common route to take when looking for therapy or counseling is to ask your doctor for a referral to a professional therapist. Contacting your insurance company is another way of finding someone who is licensed to practice therapy and can help you with your specific concerns.
What type of doctor is a therapist?
A therapist, unlike a psychiatrist, is not a medical doctor. A therapist is a mental health care provider who helps people with mental and emotional problems or mental health care concerns, relationship problems, family dynamics, stress, trauma, emotional processing, grief, loss, and more. They may treat mental health disorders, assist couples in working through problems, help with life stressors, aid people going through grief, or something else. Each therapist will have a different background and specialty. Looking at a therapist's profile online or asking questions to see what population they work with, what modality they offer, and so on, is highly recommended.
The type of therapist that provides specific therapies, may include a behavioral therapist or therapy group. There are also licensed marriage family therapist providers and psychotherapy counseling. Remember that there are many different types of therapists. Types of therapists are differentiated in a number of ways, from their title to their primary focus in terms of the patient population they work with. For example, types of therapists such as a marriage and family therapist MFT may specialize in working with a number of different populations. That’s part of why it’s important to check with a provider or look at their profile to see what exactly they offer. Even if two therapists are an MFT or an LMFT, they might be very different in terms of what they offer or specialize in.
Mental health and physical health are interconnected, and it's essential to take care of both. If you want your information from therapy, counseling, or psychiatry released to a primary care doctor, you will have to sign a release of information (ROI).
What happens during a therapy session?
During your first therapy session, you will talk about what you are there for. You and your therapist will generally establish goals together that you can refer to throughout the therapeutic process. In the following therapy sessions, you will talk to your therapist about your concerns and what's going on in your day to day life. For example, if you have a condition such as bipolar disorder or sleep disorders, you would update your licensed professional counselor or therapist on how things are going and bring up anything new that might be happening in your life, if applicable. You will work together to find what helps you in terms of managing symptoms or navigating concerns you have in your life. For example, if you get CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy, you might focus on reframing thought patterns to make them more positive. CBT is proven to benefit people with a wide range of conditions, including bipolar disorder, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and more. Additionally, if you go through something that causes you trauma or distress of any kind, you can talk to your therapist about the event. It feels good to be able to vent and talk about your concerns, and therapy improves many people's quality of life.
How do I pick a therapist?
Just like there are many forms of therapy or mental health services, there are many kinds of therapists. If you're seeking a therapist for a specific condition or concern, it's best to pick a therapist by looking for someone who specializes in that condition or concern. For example, if you're looking for a therapist that works with eating disorders, you'll want to find someone who specializes in eating disorders. In that case, you would search for, "find a therapist near me eating disorders," or "eating disorder therapist near me" online, ask your primary care physician for a referral, or ask your insurance company who they cover. It could also be that you are looking for a specific form of therapy, such as dialectical behavioral therapy or DBT, in which case you would search the internet or ask for a referral to someone who practices that form of therapy.
Let's say that you are searching for depression treatment. If that's the case, you might go to your primary care physician, explain your symptoms, and ask for a good therapist or licensed professional counselor to see for depression that might have an opening soon. You can also try an online therapy site, or contact your insurance company to look for yourself. Finding the right therapist is a process sometimes, and it can be frustrating, but it is worth it to find a good therapist who suits your needs and truly helps you. If you feel misunderstood, it might be best to switch, as is the case with some health care providers. One of the benefits of online counseling is that you get paired with a counselor based on your needs or concerns by taking a questionnaire. You can still ask to change providers if you want to see someone else, but you won't have to undergo months of waiting time.
No matter what you’re going through, seeking help is something to be proud of. A good therapist helps you gain skills that you’ll use both in their office and at home for years to come.
What should I ask my therapist?
It depends on what you're talking to your therapist about and what you're in therapy to accomplish. You can ask questions about how a specific therapeutic process or modality works, how to work through or cope with a specific situation, or ask questions about any concerns you have about therapy and how it can help you in your daily life so that you feel good about moving forward. A therapy session is roughly an hour long most of the time, and that hour is your hour. If you ask a question such as, "what should I do when a family member crosses my boundaries?" or "how do I cope with something that triggers my eating disorder behaviors?" a therapist will guide you and help you talk through the question until you find what works for you as an individual. A therapist understands that mental health, as well as life, is complex. They're there to help you come to solutions, but they won't tell you what to do. Part of why therapy is so beneficial is that it gives you skills that you'll use for the rest of your life; the point isn't to stay in therapy or counseling forever, though you can see a counselor or therapist for as long as you want. Instead, it's to empower you and help you move through any obstacles that arise. A good therapeutic relationship where you feel like you can open up to your therapist and be yourself can be life-changing, so don’t be afraid to talk about what’s on your mind.
What should you tell your first visit to a therapist?
During your first therapy session, your therapist will likely ask you to talk about yourself, why you're there, and what you'd like to achieve. You don't have to share anything that you aren't comfortable with. Therapy is a place where you should feel secure and autonomous. The first couples therapy or family therapy session will be similar, but each family member will be given an opportunity to speak and introduce themselves (if they want to/are able to), or a couple will take turns to share their thoughts or share their thoughts collectively.
If you're in group therapy, your first session will look a little bit different. You'll introduce yourself and hear other group members introduce themselves, and you'll get an introduction as to what the rest of your group therapy sessions will look like. In some forms of group therapy, you'll share less about yourself and the personal details of why you're there than you would when you see a counselor or therapist one on one. Again, it's all about what you're comfortable with telling the group members and therapist. Many people see an individual counselor or therapist in addition to attending group therapy, but this isn't always the case.
A good therapist is compassionate and non-judgmental. Remember that therapy is there to benefit you and that, while some days in therapy may be vulnerable, it’s a highly rewarding process where you can tell your therapist about anything you want to talk about or work on.