Starting Therapy — Volume I: What You Can Expect in Your First Session of Therapy

If you’re like most people considering going for therapy, you probably have some questions about what to expect.

Your first session is a chance for you to share a bit about yourself and what brought you to therapy.

Some therapists choose to use a structured assessment that asks a series of standard questions as a way to get a comprehensive understanding of you. Other therapists may opt for a more flexible session during which they ask more general questions such as “what brought you in today?”.

In either situation:

Feel free to ask questions. 

This time is for you, and it’s important you feel comfortable.

Remember that everything is voluntary. 

In an effort to get to know you better, your new therapist will likely ask you a lot of questions. If at any point you’re uncomfortable with answering the question, remember that everything is fully voluntary and it’s perfectly acceptable to say you’d rather not talk about that topic or would like to wait until you feel more comfortable before answering that question.

Share what’s helped and what hasn’t been as helpful before. 

This can include lessons from past therapists, as well as other strategies you’ve used to cope up to this point.

Give feedback to your therapist. 

Remember that this is your time and as such, it’s important to let the therapist know how they can best help you.

Expect that you may show different feelings during therapy. 

Some people feel embarrassed if they start crying or show other emotional reactions, but it’s important to remember that these feelings are understandable as you’re purposely focusing on topics that are often uncomfortable, painful, or can make you feel vulnerable. Take your time when sharing and remember that your therapist is not there to judge, but to support you and your emotions.

 

Extra Tip

I always encourage my clients to take care of themselves after their first session. While it’s important to practice self-care at all times, it can be especially helpful to do so after your first few sessions of therapy. It can be a strange experience talking openly to a stranger about difficult areas in your life. Expect that this level of vulnerability may stir up different feelings for the next day or two after your initial session. Try to go easy on yourself during this time.

If you have any other questions, consider booking a phone consult to talk directly with your potential new therapist. This is an easy way to ask more questions and start to decide if they are the right person to support you.