I’ve scheduled an initial therapy appointment, now what?
Getting started in therapy can feel overwhelming, and rightly so. For many of us, it is our first time talking to someone we don’t know about our private experiences and feelings. The time leading up to the initial session can feel especially daunting and full of unanswered questions. What will my new therapist be like? What will they expect of me? What should I do to prepare? What questions will they ask? Should I ask questions of my therapist?It is completely understandable if you feel nervous, excited, anxious, eager, hesitant… all the above about starting therapy. Whatever you’re feeling is valid! All your feelings are welcome in therapy.
Some people start therapy due to a major life event or transition. Some people start therapy to gain support in processing feelings they’re struggling to manage on their own. Some people want a space they feel heard and understood. We may have a specific goal for starting therapy or we may have several. Prior to your first session, it can be helpful to spend some time reflecting on your reasons for starting therapy, your curiosities, and what you hope to get out of the experience.
Your therapist may ask you….
During your first session, your therapist may ask you to share your goals for therapy and anychanges you’d like to make.They may ask you to describe any thoughts or feelings you’ve been struggling with and how those have shown up and/or gotten in the way of your daily life. Your therapist may also ask you questions about your past experiences, family/friends, school, work, and interests to build an understanding of who you are and how you got here.However, for any question you’re asked, it is ALWAYS ok to say, “I don’t know”. Your therapist is there to help you clarify goals and describe feelings you may not have expressed or talked about in other spaces.
Should I ask questions of my therapist?
Absolutely. If you have curiosity about any aspect of therapy, your questions are welcome and wanted during the initial session (and all subsequent sessions that follow). Things you may ask about include your therapist’s approach to working with clients,how sessions can be structured, and coping skills you want to develop.
Where do we go from here?
The first session is just the beginning. While you may feel the urge to cover many topics and provide your therapist with your life story, you don’t need to put that pressure on yourself. There will be plenty of time to expand, have more in depth-conversations, and share your questions and feelings as they emerge along the way. The first sessions are an opportunity to get to know each other, build trust, and context for the work that you want to do together. From here, you and your therapist will collaborate on your path forward, make decisions about session structure, and continue aligning on what matters most to you. Your therapeutic experience, just like you, will change and evolve over time. Be proud of yourself for taking the first step…that’s often the hardest part!