Making the decision to attend therapy deserves a pat on the back. You’ve taken an important step towards tackling a problem in your life. But you may also be naturally apprehensive about what you can expect during your first session.
You can start to ease your worries by taking solace in the fact that four out of 10 American adults have received counseling. And chances are at least some of these people were just as nervous as you are about going to their first therapy appointment.
Here’s what you can expect during your first therapy session to help prepare yourself and take away some of the new-to-therapy jitters.
It’s a Low-Pressure Session
Don’t expect your first session with a new therapist to be a “deep dive” one. This initial meeting is meant to help both of you get to know each other a bit better and for you to decide if your therapist is the right fit. While each therapist is unique, chances are they’ll treat this first meeting as a light introductory one.
Your therapist may even begin by making small talk and ensuring you found the office without any problems. If you had a phone conversation with them prior to meeting in person, they’ll most likely confirm what was covered during that call.
A therapist’s office atmosphere is usually warmer and more comfortable than that of a physician’s examining room. It usually has a more homey feel to it with a relaxing sofa or chair to sit on.
You may be asked if you’ve attended therapy before and if you felt any part of it was successful. Your therapist will most likely to want to know your general medical history and if you’re having any physical problems.
Do expect your therapist to ask questions about areas of your life that wasn’t touched upon during the phone consultation. You may think a certain area such as job satisfaction or family relationships are irrelevant to the reason you’re seeking therapy. However, your counselor wants to know if there’s a connection that you’re not seeing.
Expect a Plan
Your therapist will also map out a plan of how they’ll work with you. This will include how often and how long sessions will be, what will be discussed, and goals that each of you would like to accomplish. They may also discuss their approach to therapy and what exercises you may expect during sessions.
Before attending therapy you should have some ideas of what you want to accomplish through your sessions and life goals in general. You may be asked what your dreams are and if there’s been any upheaval in your life that is preventing you from reaching these goals. You may also be asked to present a vision of how you want your life to be a few years from now.
You’ll Get to Ask Questions
This is also an opportunity for you to get to know the therapist better and to ask them questions. It’s a good idea to have a few prepared such as asking about their experience with other patients similar to you and what treatments have been the most successful.
Keep in mind that you’re not obligated to reveal anything that makes you extremely uncomfortable at this initial stage. In time, however, you may open up and discuss more feelings that can assist you towards your goals. This is why having a therapist that makes you feel comfortable is important.
Asking questions is one of the ways you can get the most out of therapy sessions.
If you’re still nervous after knowing what to expect in advance, understand that therapy is always 100% confidential. Your therapist is a professional and obligated to keep all discussions between you and them confined to their office. This can help you relax and realize it’s OK and even expected for you to be yourself.
You should be able to trust your therapist. Even if you see someone you know in the waiting room, your therapist can reveal nothing about you and why you’re there to anyone else.
Understand as well that you’re meeting with another human. Professional therapists have had their own challenges at times during their life and can often relate to a lot of what their patients are going through.
Your therapist will also never make you feel like you’re being judged. They will never shame or make fun out of you. They also won’t tell you what to do or actually make decisions for you.
You definitely can’t expect your life to change after this initial session or even after a few. While each patient is different, therapy takes time and it can often take several months of sessions before a breakthrough occurs.
You’re in Control
Some patients visit a few therapists before they find one they’re truly comfortable with. This is why a first visit is a getting-to-know-each-other session to ensure the therapist is a good fit. You shouldn’t feel embarrassed if, for whatever reason, you don’t feel comfortable with the therapist after the initial meeting.
At the same time, do realize there may be some moments during the first session where you feel uncomfortable. This is normal, particularly when answering questions about your life and history. You should feel free to express any concerns or questions you have to your therapist during the first meeting.
Know What to Expect at Your First Therapy Session
Knowing what to expect at your first therapy session and having questions of your own prepared can help you feel less nervous about your appointment. Remember that your therapist wants to help you and is professionally trained to assist you in improving your life.
Therapy is just one of the services we offer at Nayaclinics. We’ve helped numerous patients deal with grief, anxiety, depression, and more through our therapy services. Contact us if you would like to learn more about our approach and set up a consultation.