First Therapy Session: Useful Hints and Tips

People with mental health issues may be referred to a counsellor or professional therapist to talk about what’s going on and to discuss ways of dealing with these issues in order to help you feel better in yourself and manage the feelings and emotions that are affecting you. The following article was kindly provided by Hannah Sidique, and give hints on tips on what to expect in an initial therapy session..

Article by Hannah Siddique

If you have found your therapist and booked your first appointment, feeling anxious and apprehensive about your first session is normal. A usual therapy session often lasts one hour (perhaps a little less when regarding all the writing down). In your first session, you and your therapist will be trying to get to know one another and essentially begin exploring the basics (including reasons for therapy, family history, past experience in therapy etc.). It is important to know that during your first few therapy sessions, you do not need to feel as if you have to put all your cards on the table, regardless of how comfortable you may feel sharing information.

Here are some helpful hints and tips for those undergoing their first therapy session.

  1. Having a goal– It may help if you set a goal or premise for what your looking to get out of therapy. Weather it is learning to deal with anxiety, increasing self-esteem or simply for stress relief. Having a goal of what you would like to gain from this experience, may help provide a realistic direction for your journey.
  2. Dealing with awkwardness– As difficult and awkward as it may be to talk to a random stranger regarding your emotions and perhaps specific traumatic events. Remember that the hardships you are facing would probably not surprise your therapist, as it is very likely they would have encountered it before.
  3. Being open – We may often sit and feel emotions instead of actively talking about them. For some it may take longer than usual to start being able to talk about uncomfortable areas. However, it is worth noting, it is often exploring these uncomfortable areas that some of the best progress is usually made.
  4. Ask questions– Regardless of what situation you are in, I believe it is fundamental to ask questions to gain a better understanding of what is to come and helps to calm anxiety. If you are doubtful, curious or simply do not understand, do not be afraid to convey this to your therapist. Some examples of questions may be ‘What can I expect during our first session?’ and ‘What’s your counselling style?’.
  5. Take note of how you feel afterwards– A first session is a chance for your therapist and yourself to get to know each other. Progress will usually take time and unless there are crucial red flags, I would always suggest giving your therapist another chance. Take note of how you felt after your session. Did you feel comfortable with them? Are they able to express things in a way that you clearly understand? Therapy will always be challenging, but your therapist should instill a feeling of safety in you regardless. If you do not feel compatible with your therapist, then do not worry, it is okay to choose another therapist.