How to Prepare for Your First Therapy Session

Many people feel nervous for their first therapy appointment. It’s hard to know what to expect and due to the extremely personal nature of counseling it can feel like a big leap of faith to open up to someone. It’s important to remember all of these feelings are normal!

In the inaugural episode of Deep Eddy Psychotherapy’s “Therapy 101”, Dr. Tori Olds will be discussing some of these feelings and more as we begin this series as a way to discuss and explore the ins and outs of psychotherapy. Our aim is to give both newcomers and those who may have attended sessions before tons of new insight into how counseling works and how they can get the most out of seeing their therapist.

If you’ve never done therapy before you are probably anxious about your first session. In fact I have almost never had a client come in and not express some kind of anxiety but also within the first few minutes or at least by the end of the session feeling a lot better. I encourage you to not let anxiety to stop you, although it also makes sense to be a little anxious. Being vulnerable in a way that you aren’t used to share our thoughts with a stranger can be difficult. There’s a common misconception that therapy means we have some big issue or problem, but actually going to therapy doesn’t mean you are crazy or broken. Anybody can benefit from therapy.

The therapist’s job is also to help you figure out what your goal will be. The therapist is very likely to ask you in the first session questions like “what brought you in to talk with me?”, “what would you like to focus on?”, and they may even ask “how will you know when you have met your goal and what would you like that outcome to look like?”. These are questions it would be beneficial to think about in advance and either do some journaling or reflection in preparation for your first session. If you aren’t sure how to answer these questions then the therapist can help you. In your first sessions you will probably be reflecting on what growth areas you want to address. For example you could focus on increased self compassion,  the ability to manage your anxiety, or to connect more effectively with other people, or whatever you and your therapist think would be most beneficial.

Also remember that the first session is an interview both ways to see if its a good fit. Feel free to ask your therapist questions that might help you feel if they are the therapist that is going to be the best for you.

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