What to expect during your first psychotherapy session?


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You’ve made the decision to start prioritizing your mental health and well-being, now what? What does that even look like? If you are starting therapy or beginning treatment with a new therapist, it can feel daunting and overwhelming. While you are seeking help from a professional, psychotherapy is about you, youre experience and your needs. Here are some tips for your first session to leave you feeling empowered and satisfied with your decision to begin therapy. 

Logistics

Let’s get the house-keeping items out of the way. Prior to session you will likely be asked to complete intake paperwork. This is helpful in assessing what is brining you in and to further assist in gaining a whole picture of what’s bringing you in. 

 Sessions are typically 45-60 minutes long. Frequency of sessions will be discussed and cancellation policies will be communicated. 

Privacy policies and confidentiality explained. Your information is private! If you have any questions or concerns, please ask. 


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What happens in the first session?

The first session is meant for information gathering and getting to know one another. The therapist will ask several questions to gain an understanding of what you are looking to achieve in therapy, present feelings and symptoms, how you’d like to feel, and barriers to achieving that. 

The therapist will ask you about your personal history, relationships, employment, current stressors, drug and alcohol use, past trauma and any other pertinent information, as it is related to your presenting problem. 

Come prepared

You may want to designate a therapy notebook or a place where you document and reflect on your experience prior to the first session and throughout treatment. Prior to session consider and allow for space to think of what you are looking to gain from therapy. What is your purpose and what is blocking you from this currently?


Ask questions

Please ask any and every question that you have. All therapists are not created equal. During the first few sessions it is important to gauge if this is a good fit for you. Here are some questions to consider:

-What is your approach to therapy?

-Do you have experience working with clients that have issues like mine?

-What can I expect from our sessions?

-Will there be homework?

-How will we achieve results?

-Any billing or insurance question

Easing the fear associated with first session 

–  Your therapist is human. We have experienced negative emotions, loss, hardships, etc.  In addition to our training and education we are pulling from a wealth of the common human experience to understand and empathize and work with you. 

-Therapy is a process. It will take time to build the relationship and trust with your therapist. Let the process unfold. The beauty of psychotherapy is that it allows for a consistent safe space that you can count on. If you missed something in the first session or any session, you can count on the next. 

-If it’s not a good fit, there are many other therapists out there that may be more aligned with what you need. The goal is to help you achieve success and wellness. You can tell your therapist that you do not feel like a good fit and ask for them to find you someone that better suits your needs. Or just do it. If I can’t help you, I want you to find someone that can!

Congratulations on making the choice to begin your mental health journey! The first session is just the beginning. Don’t let the fear of the unknown prevent you from living your best and fullest life. 

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