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A first therapy session can be scary as well as exciting. How can you get through it in one piece, and what can you expect from that first time?

Your Therapist

Are you familiar with the type or types of therapy offered by your particular therapist? If you aren't or have questions about the method, your first appointment is the ideal time to get clarification. Which types of clients and issues do well with this method?

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Are you a good candidate for this kind of therapy, or does your therapist believe that another type of therapy might better meet your needs?

Ask for an outline of the work generally done within the therapy method your therapist offers, and ask how many sessions clients generally have, and how often. Asking for book recommendations that tell you more about your particular kind of therapy is a good way to gain an insight into your therapist's personal therapy philosophy without spending valuable time on this discussion. 

It's comforting to know more about your therapist's professional background as well. Does he or she have experience in dealing with clients who have similar issues, and if so how much? Who are the therapist's professional role models? Where did your therapist study and for how long has he or she been practicing? What else do you need to know about working with this therapist?

Then, you'll want to know if the therapist is available for phone sessions or sessions set up at short notice if you are having some sort of mental health crisis. Some therapists are more flexible than others when it comes to this. 

People who are dealing with an issue they might need medication for — such as depression or ADHD — could ask if they need to see a different person to prescribe medication and if so, to what extent your therapist can coordinate the treatment with other healthcare providers. 

Don't Expect Too Much, Too Soon

Chances are that you have been struggling with the issues for which you decided to seek therapy for quite a while by the time you find yourself in your therapist's office for the first time. A first therapy session lays the foundation for your further work, but don't expect to feel better after that initial appointment — the sessions that come after will be much more productive. 

It's not uncommon to feel disappointed or unsure after a first session.

Remember that therapy takes time and that you need to get to know your therapist and build up a relationship of trust before you will feel able to share what you need to share, and get good advice. 

You might even find, after attending a few sessions, that this therapist is not the right one for you. If that happens, don't let the experience put you off therapy completely and just look for another therapist or another method. Hopefully, though, you'll find that one therapy session builds on another that that the at-home work you do between sessions has a continuous positive impact on your well-being. 

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