“Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise.”
Everything has a beginning. The beginning of therapy is the first session. The first session provides the client an opportunity to express what has brought them to therapy. The first session also provides the client an opportunity to meet the therapist and determine if the therapist is an appropriate “fit”. Here is a guide of what to expect in the first session:
What to expect:
A Safe environment. Expect to be in a comfortable environment in an office with just you and your therapist.
Confidentiality. Expect the therapist to keep everything that you express confidential between the two of you. There are certain situations where confidentiality must be broken. Those situations include when a client is at risk to hurt themselves or somebody else.
Questions. The therapist will likely ask a variety of questions seeking to understand what has brought you into therapy.
Opportunity to ask questions. The therapist will give you opportunity to ask questions about whatever you like. Be prepared to ask questions. You might want to ask questions about the therapist, the process, or even the techniques that they use. Asking questions will help you establish more rapport with your therapist.
Clarification of goals. Often in the first therapy session the therapist will attempt to understand and clarify your goals. The goals set during this first session are not “set in stone” but rather a way to understand you and your objectives better.
Discomfort. The process of therapy can make people feel uncomfortable. Expressing your feelings and past history can be intimidating. Understand that the therapist is experienced at helping you through this discomfort and will work to make the experience emotionally safe for you.
Relief. Most people find the process of expressing feelings, thoughts, and past experiences to be intimidating but relieving once completed. Many clients express feeling “like a weight has been lifted” simply by expressing the reasons they want to begin therapy.
In Summary, the initial therapy meeting is an important first step in the journey of emotional health. This first step will allow you to meet your therapist and clarify your goals. It will also challenge you by giving you an opportunity to express why you are seeking therapy. Most clients report apprehension and some discomfort on this first visit, but most report feelings of relief by the end of the first session.
Remember that there is a reason that you are seeking therapy. Keep this motivation in mind as you prepare for your first therapy session. This motivation will help propel you to follow through with the first meeting.