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People decide to take the courageous step of engaging in therapy for a wide variety of reasons. You might be contemplating therapy because you need help dealing with the loss of a loved one, past trauma, depression, your relationship, or any number of other issues.
One thing is common to all "therapy virgins" — that first appointment is a little scary, because you are about to share your deepest thoughts with a stranger and have no idea what to expect. So, you've been assigned a therapist or have chosen one yourself? Here's how to go into your first session feeling a little easier.
Your Therapy Goals
Your first session will, by definition, center on your therapist getting to know you and the issues you are struggling with. What is most pressing for you right now? To avoid awkward silences and discussions about things that are not all that helpful to you, it is a good idea to write your goals down or at least to think about them in detail.
Sit down and take your time to think about the questions your therapist will inevitably ask you during that first session:
- For what issue(s) are you seeking therapy right now, and how long have you been struggling?
- What are you hoping to achieve in therapy?
- What is your end goal? How do you want therapy to change you?
- What are you feeling right now?
These four questions will give you plenty of material to discuss during your first session, but make sure you play an active role in the session by asking questions of your own as well as beginning to talk about the problems you want to deal with in therapy.
It is normal to feel anxious and awkward about your first session. You are talking about things that are difficult to discuss, with a person you have probably never met before.