Going to your first therapy session can be intimidating. In some ways, it can almost feel like a sort of interview. In some ways, it is.
Any first session with a therapist is about getting to know each other, learning about your history, and experiencing the type of connection you have. Studies actually show that therapy works better when there is an authentic and open relationship between therapist and client, thus making the therapeutic rapport significantly important.
Psychotherapy is, by design, a unique relationship. A relationship that allows the client to open up, delve into past and present experiences, and to have the opportunity for healing and growth.
If you’re considering psychotherapy for the first time, the process can feel a little mysterious. My aim is to demystify it a bit. Let’s explore topics ranging from choosing a therapist to common experiences after your first therapy session.
How to Find a Therapist
Before you can begin on your therapeutic journey, you’ll need to choose a therapist suitable to your needs. Searching using Google and the Psychology Today directory can help you discover your best options.
You can narrow down your choices based upon location, fees, specializations, and style and/or approach.
You may want to create a list of three to five therapists who satisfy your criteria and contact each. Calling is not the only means of contacting potential therapists in this day and age, although, it is recommended, however, as it may give you a better sense of whether the particular therapist could be well-suited for you.
How to Prepare for Your First Therapy Session
Before your first therapy session, it’s helpful to come up with some general questions in mind. Your therapist will likely answer most of the basics before you have to ask. Still, before you leave your first session you can generally expect know the answer to questions such as:
- How often are we meeting?
- How many sessions will my therapy last?
- What is the patient confidentiality policy?
- What is the structure of each therapy session?
- What should I do in between sessions?
- How will I know that I’m making progress?
How to Get the Most Out of Therapy
Having a list of first therapy session questions will have you well on your way towards getting the most out of therapy. Even so, there are some broad guidelines to follow for every therapy session.
- Try not to hide aspects of your personality
- Remain open to growth
- Give voice to anything that feels uncomfortable or “off”
- Understand that therapy is a process and may take a little time
One of the aims of therapy is to provide you with the opportunity to let parts of your personality and self that you might usually be hesitant to show or discuss come into the light. Engaging in therapy in this way can be intense at times, but ultimately, it can be an incredibly freeing and reparative experience.
Therapeutic conversations are solely focused on the client and although this can feel strange to talk about yourself for an entire hour, keep in mind that this is how the unique process of therapy is allowed to unfold. Therapy is a chance to reverse our preconceived or programmed social rules for an hour and work to grow and change.
Although therapy can be utilized as a time to blow off steam and air your grievances, a good therapist will also take this opportunity to help direct you to look deeper into the matter at times.
What Will Your First Therapy Session Like?
In your first therapy session, you can expect your counselor to do a bit more of the talking than they might normally engage in. They may educate themselves more about you, explore your experience in the room, and ask you questions about your present concerns and symptoms.
It can be perfectly normal to feel a bit awkward during the first session, hopefully your therapist can make your first session feel a bit more at ease and comfortable.
Additionally, the first session can be an opportunity to discuss any questions you have and a chance for you to get more clarity on:
- Your goals
- How often you might meet
- What progress may look like
- A rough time-line for treatment
- A general therapeutic assessment
- Therapeutic techniques
The Bottom Line
Therapy can seem mysterious until it doesn’t. Like many things in life, the first time can feel frightening, uncomfortable, and forced. That’s a small hurdle to trounce compared to the abundant benefits therapy has to offer.
If you’re ready to take the first step on your therapeutic journey, contact Louis Laves-Webb & Associates today.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu