Mind & Body
How To Prepare For Your First Therapy Session
Therapy is very worthwhile and rewarding, but the first session can be a very nerve-wracking experience, especially if you have never been to therapy before. Preparing for your session is a good idea. Try these tips to help you feel as prepared as possible.
Whether you’re going for relationship counseling or using more serious services like For All Seasons, outline some clear goals for what you want to achieve. Everyone’s reasons for therapy will be personal, and there are no right or wrong reasons to go. Try to understand why you have sought this help and how you want to leave.
If you have been to therapy before, think about what you like about past therapists and what worked well for you. Think about what didn’t work, and what you didn’t like about your last therapist too.
Therapy is most effective when it is introspective, so it’s helpful to know what is weighing on you and what you want to achieve from therapy. For example, if you have been unhappy, put some time into thinking about why this is.
If you aren’t sure what you want to achieve from therapy, don’t worry. It’s a good idea to have some idea of what you’re hoping to achieve, but it is normal to not be quite sure and need some help too. This is part of what therapy can offer.
Have Realistic Expectations
Therapy can be incredibly beneficial, but it won’t be a magic cure. If you go to your first counseling session, expecting to leave completely cured, you will leave disappointed. Make sure you set realistic, manageable goals, and understand that therapy is a process that will take a lot of work from you and your therapist.
It might take some time to reach your goal, and the first therapist that you see might not be the one that will finish the journey with you.
Therapists are people too, so you can’t expect them to have all the answers for you. Therapy will take work from you as well as from your therapist. The process takes time, and it won’t be as quick and simple as the therapy sessions that you have seen in the movies or on the TV.
Give Yourself Credit
It isn’t an easy thing to do to seek help. For a long time, the stigma of mental illness has stopped a lot of people from looking for help, but today, a lot more is known about how mental health can affect other parts of our lives. Despite this better understanding, a lot of people feel unable to take the step of seeing a professional. If you’ve done this, it’s worth celebrating.
Mental health is just as important as physical health, so seeing a therapist to look after your mental health is no different than exercising to look after your physical health.
Schedule Your First Session At A Convention Time
If you haven’t been to therapy before, you don’t know how you will feel after your session. Some people feel fine after therapy and are able to go back to school or work, whereas others will need some time to sit with their feelings and recover for a while.
To be safe, book your first appointment on a day off or for a time when you don’t have many other plans. Try to avoid making plans for after therapy, just in case you find that you feel overwhelmed or need to be alone. You might feel refreshed after your session and have some motivation, or you might find that you’re deep in your thoughts and don’t want to be around people. Prepare for this when you book your first sessions.
After a few sessions, you will know what to expect and can schedule accordingly.
Reserve Time For Yourself Before The Session
Schedule some time for yourself before the start of your session, especially if you feel nervous. Turn off your cellphone and put away your work so you have time to consider your feelings.
Preparing to open yourself up can cause you a lot of stress. This stress makes your body release cortisol, the stress hormone, which is what causes your fight-or-flight response. It’s natural, but not helpful, so take some time to breathe, be quiet, and keep hydrated.
Give yourself plenty of time to find your therapist’s office. If you already feel nervous, getting lost or running late is the last thing you need.
Therapy isn’t a job interview or a formal event, so you don’t need to dress up unless you feel comfortable that way. Dressing in comfortable clothes will help you to feel more relaxed.
Be yourself and wear whatever is comfortable for you. This could be sweatpants or a dress, as long s you’re physically and emotionally comfortable, so you can be relaxed during the session.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions
During your session, you can talk as much or as little as you want. Understand that there is no wrong question to ask during therapy. Your therapist might not have all the answers, but they can help to guide you to them.
There’s also no shame in asking about billing, schedules, or insurance. Make a list of any questions you want to ask before you go, and ask them at the start of the session or ask for some time near the end to talk through practical questions like this.
Throughout the session, you can also ask questions about your therapist’s experience, strategies, and anything else you are curious about.
Be Open And Honest
It might be scary, but being open and honest about your thoughts and feelings is crucial if you want to get the most out of your sessions. This doesn’t mean that you have to offload every feeling you have in your first session, but try to be freer while talking. Therapy is often not much fun, and it will require a little discomfort if you’re going to achieve your goals.
To meet your goals, you will need to be honest, even if it is embarrassing and uncomfortable to do so. Remember that your therapist isn’t there to judge you. They’re there to help, and what you tell them is confidential.