What to Expect in your First Therapy Session
If you’re looking for guidance in overcoming a problem (any kind of problem: personal, home, school, or work-related), or if you’re looking for an outlet to express how you feel to an unbiased source, therapy can be a great option.
Starting therapy for the first time can be nerve-racking for anyone. It’s a new experience that may push you outside of your comfort zone. At the same time, it’s a proven way to help you learn more about yourself and grow. First, be proud of yourself for having the courage to make yourself an appointment. Next, read about how people feel about therapy, and what typically occurs during a first appointment from the therapists at Mindsoother. We’re here to reassure you that you can take the first step towards self-improvement.
How do you think most people feel before going into their first therapy session?
Kendra: “There’s a wide range of responses to beginning treatment. Sometimes people are hesitant about therapy. They’re not sure what to expect when going into it. Others are hopeful about the process. They want us to help them find ways to address their problems.”
Brittany: “Sometimes, people are afraid of making a connection or being judged by their therapist. I often hear ‘please don’t think that this is weird’ or ‘I hope you don’t think that this is weird.’ Remember, we talk to people on a daily basis. It takes a lot to shock clinicians. Plus, it’s our job to be impartial and nonjudgmental.”
Tessa: “Some people wonder if their therapist is the right fit. Having a connection is an important part of therapy. Don’t feel defeated if you’re not making as much progress as you expected, or if your therapist isn’t a good match. If you’re not connecting well with your therapist, it doesn’t mean that therapy isn’t right for you. That person just may not be the best therapist for you. Remain optimistic, and find a therapist whose personality better matches yours. Having that connection will make a big difference in your experience and in your progress in therapy.”
How does a typical first appointment work?
Danna: “As therapists, our goal is to make the person feel like the experience is much easier than he or she imagined. Think of the first appointment as our way of getting to know you, so we can figure out how to best help you. We’ll start with basic questions, and then we’ll explain to you how the ongoing process works. We want you to be informed about this great opportunity to dig deep and propel yourself in life. Next, we’ll set immediate goals together and talk about what that would look like. At the end of the session, we will decide how often to meet. For example, I might suggest that we meet once a week for the next four weeks, so we can figure out what to work on.”
Kendra: “A typical first appointment for me involves building rapport and figuring out what paths would be most helpful. It’s our first chance to get to know each other. I’ll usually ask a variety of questions, including questions about family, childhood, hobbies, school, work, and health. Then, we can determine what type of treatment is best.”
Dana K.: “I often apologize for writing information down on a piece of paper. I don’t like having to write because it’s impersonal, but at the same time, it’s necessary so that I can get to know you. It can be uncomfortable for anyone to be asked all of these questions about your life when you just met me; my job is to make you feel as comfortable as possible during the process. In the first appointment, my goal is to get a general sense of what brings you here and why, family history, school, social life, eating habits, drug or alcohol use, sleep, etc. After we get to know each other, we can begin setting goals to help you grow.”
Whether you’re in crisis, you’re looking for concrete coping skills or you’re looking to connect and talk to someone about life issues, therapy is an amazing opportunity to explore. Therapy allows you to figure out what’s getting in the way of your goals. Then you and your therapist can determine the next steps to take in order to improve. Over time, the connection that you build with your therapist and the skills that you learn to handle difficult situations will be well-worth the uneasiness you may feel going into your first session.