It is natural to feel a bit anxious going for therapy the first time. You might wonder what it will be like, whether you’ll like your therapist, or even whether they will like you, and will it help?
Going to therapy is a worthwhile and exciting step to improve things for you, and it may take courage and commitment to start and continue your journey. Not only can a psychologist help to alleviate difficult symptoms like stress, anxiety, depression, or relationship challenges, therapy is also known to help you grow, have greater resilience in the future, and get the most out of life. Well done! You are stepping on a path to living your best life!
So what happens in a first session?
Your psychologist is likely to try and make you comfortable, before asking questions such as “what brought you here?”, “what do you hope to get out of therapy?”
In your first session, your therapist will spend some time getting to know you and the issues that brought you into treatment. He or she may use a formal, structured interview, or it may just feel like a more free-flowing conversation. The therapist will ask questions about your concerns, the important people in your life, as well as your history and background. Most likely, you’ll find yourself talking about your current symptoms or struggles, as well saying a bit about your relationships, your interests, your strengths, and your goals.
Check in with yourself after your first session whether you felt at ease and hopeful that you may find psychological healing with this specific therapist.
Remember, the successful outcome of therapy is as much the client’s responsibility, as it is the psychologist’s. So bring your motivation, honesty, and willingness to be open to suggestions with when you go.
Tips to minimise stress beforehand
If the psychologist has a website, have a look at the person you will see’s profile, so that it doesn’t seem altogether unfamiliar to you.
Give yourself time to mentally prepare for your first visit. Think about what you would like to resolve and write down a few goals for therapy. This will likely change somewhat through your therapeutic journey, but it might make you feel a bit more prepared.
Check where the practice is located and how long it will take to get there, and plan to arrive at least ten minutes early to have time to complete any new client intake forms. Nothing adds to stress at your first visit like getting stuck in traffic and knowing you’ll be late for your first session!
Take some deep breaths. Remember, psychologists are also people. They have been trained extensively to be compassionate and knowledgeable about the struggles that humans have, and you are likely to meet a kind and helpful person when you get there. Try to approach your sessions with a mixture of hope and curiosity, as you gradually uncover new possibilities and new strengths in yourself.