One of the beauties of psychotherapy is that it provides a space for a person to talk about anything he or she wants. A goal is to say whatever it is that you’re thinking and feeling with as little censorship as possible. A good rule of thumb is to talk about whatever is most emotionally pressing. But for people new to therapy, this still feels a bit too aimless, so here are five topics that one can always talk about.
Early relationships, adolescent relationships and ongoing relationships have formative effects on your way of being in the world. What are the key relationships in your life? You could talk about your boss, co-workers, high school friends, current friends, family members or significant others. Bringing these relationships up in therapy will help us learn more about the world of your interpersonal interactions and how you view others and yourself.
Freud said that dreams were the royal road to the unconscious. Every night your unconscious puts on a million dollar visual production to help you understand what’s going on in your life on a deeper level. Dreams cut to the core of your conflicts and can serve as valuable guides. Write down your dreams as soon as you wake up, bring them to therapy and let them serve as the jumping off point for conversation. The more freely you can talk about the images and feelings in your dreams, the easier it is to get at what’s going on in your life. Over time, you and your therapist will develop a dream vocabulary that is unique to you and that can be referred to in the future.
It’s not necessarily a topic people are dying to talk about in therapy, but all the more reason to do it. In therapy, absolutely no topic is off limits. One of the most profound goals in therapy is self-acceptance. Talking about your sexual desires, preferences, conflicts, fetishes and struggles not only helps reduce shame, but promotes a deeper level of acceptance toward all aspects of your personality.
Money is a loaded topic, probably even more than sex. People have all sorts of complicated feelings toward money and it has radically different meanings for each person. Unfortunately, society also equates people’s success with the amount of money they have and how much they make. People shy away from talking about it because of the strong emotions it brings up. But learning to talk about money more openly, even about your therapist’s fee, is an excellent way to develop a healthier relationship with money and work.
Finally, talking to your therapist about your feelings toward your therapist is, along with dreams, one of the most direct routes to self-awareness and change. A wise therapist wants to hear all of your thoughts and feelings, good or bad, about him or her. This brings relational issues that you’re experiencing outside of the session into the here-and-now of the session itself. Instead of talking about something that happened last week (which is perfectly fine by the way), you’re now talking about something that’s happening right now. This can be a little scary, but when new insight is coupled with the emotion of the present moment, it can be a powerful avenue toward growth.