Making the decision to seek counseling can be a hard one. Your first therapy session may seem daunting. You may have questions: What will happen? What will I need? Will the questions they ask be too invasive? What if I’m not ready to talk about an extremely personal experience with someone I just met? Those questions are valid, and it is important for you to know the answers to these questions when deciding to seek out therapy.
Preparing for Your First Therapy Session
One of the first things you’ll need to know before you even schedule your first therapy session is whether your insurance will cover mental health services. If so, then you should research available mental health professionals to determine who you think will be a good fit for you and provide the services you need.
The next step is to schedule your first appointment. This step is just like scheduling an appointment for a medical doctor. You can call our office to schedule an appointment or contact us through our website to ask questions and begin the process of setting up an appointment with one of our mental health professionals. Once you have scheduled your appointment, congratulations, you have just completed the hardest part of your first therapy session.
Arriving for Your First Appointment
The day has come for your first session, and you step through the front door. Just like you would at a doctor’s office, you will check in for your appointment. There will be a front desk and someone will be there to warmly greet you and check you in.
After checking in, there will be a short survey you need to fill out so the therapist can get to know more about you. This intake survey will include questions to assess your general disposition, to discover any physical symptoms associated with mental health, and to inquire about events or situations that you may have experienced in the recent months.
Some of the questions on the survey may seem silly or invasive; however, this survey will help the therapist know what to focus on during your first session. Sometimes the answers that you give on the survey might lead your therapist to focus on something you were completely unaware of, so it is important that you take the time to carefully reflect and be honest about your answers.
Meeting Your Therapist
When you have finished your survey, you will wait for someone to come and get you. Again, this is just like waiting in a doctor’s office. Soon, one of our therapists will appear, introduce themself, and lead you to an office.
Once inside the room, your therapist will ask you to have a seat and then sit in another seat across from you, creating a comfortable space for you. They will most likely have a notebook and a pen, which are for taking notes and nothing to be afraid of or worried about. Your therapist’s office is meant to be a safe and welcoming environment. Our therapists are here to help, not to judge you.
The purpose of your first therapy session is for you and your therapist to develop a rapport and start a connection, so it’s important for you to be honest. Your therapist might ask questions that you are not ready to answer, and that’s okay. You can say that you are not ready to answer those questions or talk about a certain situation, and your therapist will understand that you need time.
Our therapists are there to help and not to judge. You have nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. Just like any other relationship, you cannot build a connection based on lies. Be open and honest with your therapist; that is the only way they can help you.
Finding the Right Fit
After your first therapy session, you may feel uncomfortable talking about yourself in such an intimate way with someone that you just met. You might also feel like you are going nowhere and not getting the answers you were looking for. Relax. It was just the first session. Therapy is not a quick fix. You will not have the time to talk about and analyze everything in your life in the span of 30 minutes to an hour. Your therapist needs more time to get to know you, and you need more time to get to know your therapist.
However, you may feel that there is no way you will be able to make a connection with your first therapist. You may feel like they didn’t understand you or your situation on the level you want them to. You could be seeking therapy for stressors that are caused by situations unique to your culture, class, race, sexual orientation, gender, etc. Our therapists are trained to help you work through whatever is troubling you, but sometimes your therapist may not truly understand what it is you are going through. Therapists are human and sometimes cannot wrap their heads around what is troubling you, and that is okay.
For some reason–rational or not–you may feel that you and the therapist are just not going to be compatible, and that feeling is also valid. Nobody would question you for not wanting to go through with a surgery if you didn’t feel comfortable with the surgeon. Why shouldn’t you take your mental health as seriously as your physical health?
Sometimes you have to keep looking to find a therapist who works well with you. Luckily, we have many passionate and understanding mental health professionals to seek out and build a relationship with. It could turn into a process of trial and error to find a therapist that you are comfortable with, but in the end, getting help from the right person is the best thing you can do for yourself and your mental wellbeing.