WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT FOR MY FIRST THERAPY SESSION?
“I’m afraid to open up, how do I know I won’t be judged”
“I’m feeling all sorts of things about my first session”
“Is there a way I can prepare beforehand”
“I might be seen as weak if I start counselling”
All these thoughts are normal when it comes to counselling, and if you relate to any of these thoughts, I am here to tell you that is okay and I am here to walk you through the process!
Whether you have previously booked a session with a therapist or you are considering to start therapy, it can be a very daunting experience when you do not know what to expect. We are going to break down the session to talk about what happens when you first meet with your therapist, and discuss what needs to be done before you even start your session.
Getting Ready for Your First Session
You may have had your session booked by an Intake Coordinator, through Psychology Today, or even by opening up Anchoridge Counselling’s website and booking yourself in directly. The important part is, you got yourself booked in and that is the first step of the process! Before you are brought in for your session, it is essential to have the intake form that was sent to your email completed. This is how you introduce yourself and provide your therapist with all the relevant information regarding yourself. It is also how you provide consent for treatment. Now would also be the time to confirm you have a credit card on file so you do not have to focus on payments the day of your session!
Now fast forward, today is the day of your first appointment, you may be experiencing several different emotions and I just wanted to point out that it is perfectly okay. You are entering a new environment - being a little nervous, excited, scared, or all the emotions is to be expected.
You open the door of the office, take a step into the waiting room and you are greeted by an individual behind the desk. The person behind the desk is there to help you. Whether this means you want to chat a bit before your session or you want to sit quietly, they will follow your lead. You can just let them know your name and who you are seeing, and then have a seat - they will take care of the rest. Since all the important documents were completed beforehand, you have nothing to worry about! When it is time for your session, your therapist will come out to greet you and introduce themselves, before taking you into a nice, comfortable, and safe room.
During Your First Session
The first session you have with your therapist will probably be a little different than any future sessions booked. This first session is the time for you and your therapist to get to know each other. Your therapist may ask some questions about your history such as: childhood information, education, relationships, goals for therapy and more. The relationship you form with your therapist is important for not only your comfort, but their's as well. When you are able to connect with one another, the chances are you will benefit from the sessions a lot more!
Since it is your first session, you can ease into different topics. You do not have to start discussing your deepest darkest secrets, you can talk about whatever you are comfortable with. The most important part is that you are communicating and creating that positive therapeutic relationship.
During your session, you and your therapist may also discuss treatment plans, treatment length, and how to help you get the most out of your sessions. It may also be helpful for you to bring in some questions of your own, if this is something you would like to do. Possible questions could be: What things should I plan to do between sessions? Could you tell me a little more about your approach in connecting with clients?
Now, What Happens After Your First Session?
You’ve done it! You have just finished your first session and walk out, heading back to the waiting room. The hope is for you to walk out of the session with a sense of comfort and wanting to book a second session. But the most important thing is for you to do a mental “check in” with yourself and reflect on the session and how it made you feel. Now whether you wanted to book in your next session right then and there, or you wanted to head home and reflect a little more and double check your calendar, both are perfectly fine.
Take some time to reflect about your feelings and your specifically, your therapist. Ask your self:
Did I feel comfortable speaking to them?
Would I be able to work them long-term?
What did I feel good about?
Was there anything I want to address with them next time I see them?
As therapy is a very personal and individualized experience, it is important to voice any concerns you may have. If for some reason you did not feel like the therapist was a good fit, reach out to the admin team and they will be more than happy to set up a meet and greet with another therapist. Just because you had an initial session with one therapist, that does not mean you have to continue with them. At Anchoridge, our goal is for you to work with someone you feel connected to, supported by and safe with.
Your therapist might have also sent you home with some “homework” for you to work on before your next session. I know the word homework can be scary and you’re thinking “I don’t have time for this” or “why would this help me,” but honestly, homework could be anything from journaling to trying out a new coping skill or tool when certain situations arise. The use of homework in counselling actually has a lot of benefits. These benefits could include practicing new coping skills, improving emotional regulation, and restructuring harmful and negative thought patters. Homework is not given to you so your therapist can grade you, it’s about helping you feel happier and healthier!
Remember, Counselling is a Journey
I hope this has helped reduce some of the anxiety you may have been feeling about your first therapy session. We are here to help you in any way that we can. Counselling is a journey, but it is a journey of healing and recovery and you are the driver. Of course, your therapist will be along for the ride to support and guide you, but at the end the day you are in control of the route you want to take and how you want to work through certain experiences. Just remember, what matters most is the commitment you make towards your healing journey and that you are never ever alone!
Thanks for reading,