Therapy Reflections is reader supported. When you buy items through links on this blog, I may earn an affiliate commission, which will assist me in continuing to create useful content for the healing journeys of my readers.
Taking the first step towards therapy can be a daunting experience, and it’s natural to feel nervous or unsure about what to expect during your first session. The first session is crucial as it sets the tone for the rest of your therapy journey. In this blog post, we will explore what to expect in your first therapy session and provide some tips to help you make the most out of it.
The first session will likely begin with introductions. The therapist will introduce themselves, explain their qualifications, and ask you to introduce yourself. This is an opportunity for the therapist to get to know you better and understand why you are seeking therapy.
- Setting Expectations
The therapist will also set expectations for therapy during the first session. They will explain how the therapy process works, the types of therapy they offer, and what you can expect from therapy. They will also discuss confidentiality and explain the limits to it. This is also a good time to discuss any concerns or expectations you have about therapy.
The therapist will likely conduct an assessment during the first session. This will involve asking you questions about your current symptoms, medical history, and family history. They may also ask about your current support system, past traumatic experiences, coping mechanisms, and any medications you are currently taking.
The purpose of the assessment is to gain a better understanding of your current mental state and create a personalized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs. You do not need to share every detail of your past experiences in the first session and it is okay if it takes time for you to build a sense of trust with your therapist.
- Goal Setting
During the first session, the therapist will work with you to set goals for therapy. These goals may be short-term or long-term, and they will provide a roadmap for your therapy journey. Goal setting is essential as it gives you something to work towards and provides a sense of direction and purpose for therapy.
- Exploring Treatment Options
The therapist will also explore different treatment options during the first session. They will explain the different types of therapy they offer, such as trauma-informed therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) or humanistic therapy. They may also discuss recommendations for seeking medical care or other holistic healing treatments, depending on your needs. This is an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the different treatment options available to you.
- Building Rapport
Lastly, building rapport is an essential part of the first therapy session. It’s crucial to find a therapist that you feel comfortable talking to and feel you can build trust in your relationship. During the first session, the therapist will work to build a rapport with you by creating a safe, validating, and non-judgmental environment where you can express yourself freely.
They may also use techniques like active listening, empathy, and validation to create a supportive and compassionate space. It may take time to build a sense of trust and safety with openness and vulnerability with your therapist. That is okay and makes sense based on past relationship trauma and experiences of abandonment in relationships. Understand that building trust with your therapist may take time and there is no set expectation on how long it takes to build a sense of trust in the therapeutic relationship.
Tips for Making the Most Out of Your First Therapy Session
- Be Open and Honest
Being open and honest about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences is essential during the first therapy session. The therapist needs to understand your current mental state to create a personalized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs. It’s also essential to be honest about any concerns or fears you may have about therapy.
- Ask Questions
Don’t be afraid to ask questions during the first therapy session. The therapist is there to help you and answer any questions you may have about therapy or the treatment options available to you. Asking questions can also help you feel more informed and empowered about your therapy journey.
- Take Notes
Taking notes during the first therapy session can help you remember important information and goals discussed during the session. It can also help you keep track of any questions or concerns you want to address in future sessions.
- Be Patient
It’s important to remember that therapy is a process, and it takes time to see progress. Be patient and trust the process. It’s also important to remember that therapy is a collaborative effort between you and your therapist, and you both need to work together to achieve. Therapy requires a sense of ownership and accountability taking for your own behaviors and desire to grow in your healing process.