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Have you ever booked a counseling session with a therapist, but changed your mind at the last minute? Were you up all night wondering how to prepare for your first therapy session? Ever wondered what to talk about in your first therapy session? Well, look no further, we have the answers to your questions.
In this article, we will discuss what is therapy and how you can prepare for your first session. Along with this, we will tell you what you can talk about and how to approach your issues. We will also give you a brief about what to do after the first session.
Some key terms that you will come across in this article are:
- Therapy – In simple words, therapy is a form of treatment in which you seek help to deal with stress and other negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, etc. In therapy, you also come to terms with trauma and loss.
- Therapist – Is a trained professional who takes face-to-face sessions and helps you in the journey of self-improvement.
- Anxiety- It is a constant fear or worries people have about everyday situations. Many times, this worry is so strong that it affects their day-to-day life.
- Doubt– It is a feeling of being unsure of something or someone.
How to Prepare for First Therapy Session?
First and foremost, let us understand why you want to meet a therapist. Just like you visit a doctor to seek help, your first therapy session will follow a similar format.
We understand that the first session can cause anxiety and you may have doubts if the person can help. Clients can also have apprehension about what they should talk about during their first session. Here are some simple ways in which you can prepare for the first therapy session.
Write Your Goals
If you have already booked your first appointment, congratulations. You are already on your journey to self-improvement. Before you go for your session, write what goals you want to work on. You can consider a goal as anything that you wish to change about yourself.
Be Open about Your Issues
When you prepare for your first therapy session, you need to talk to your therapist honestly about your issues. However difficult it may be, open up about every thought you have. That does not mean you need to discuss every difficult emotion in the first session. Speak of the problems based on importance.
Therapy is not magic and doesn’t provide quick relief. If you expect to get suddenly better after the first session, you will feel let down. You need to consider the first session as an opportunity to get to know your therapist and discuss therapy goals.
Do you immediately lose weight after your first gym visit? No, it takes months and sometimes years of hard work to see a change. Go with the same attitude for your therapy session. Some issues will be easier to handle than others. Even if you prepare and decide what to talk about in your first therapy session, do not expect immediate answers or results.
As a client, it is your right to ask as many questions as you want. Whatever doubts and anxieties you have about therapy, discuss them in the first session. No question is a silly question. Only when you ask questions, you will be able to understand how the process works and what to expect in the follow-up sessions.
What to Talk about in First Therapy Session?
When you book the first session, you may wonder where to start and what to talk about first. Look at visiting a therapist similar to going for a doctor’s appointment. Just like a doctor’s clinic, you will be seated in a waiting room and have a receptionist call out your name.
While you wait for your appointment, you may be asked to fill up some forms such as a confidentiality form and basic history. However, every therapist has their own format for taking information.
Here are some topics to talk about and prepare for during the first therapy session:
A therapist will start the conversation by asking for personal information such as your name, age, occupation, and educational qualification. They will also ask you if you have any health issues. This will help the therapist get some basic details about you.
Just as a doctor asks you what you are feeling, therapists will also ask you similar questions. During this time, speak about your thoughts, and how it is affecting your personal life, relationships, and work. Therefore, it would be good to prepare for these questions in the first therapy session.
Reasons for Seeking Help
In the first session, the therapist will ask you why you chose to do therapy and what goals you wish to achieve. At this point, you can remove the notes you have prepared and talk about these goals. For example, one of your goals can be working on your anger. You may also have other goals such as working on your confidence, changing negative thoughts, dealing with anxiety, and so on.
Details about Your Life History
Another important aspect of the first therapy session is your history. While your medical history is noted down, a therapist also wants to know about your family history. This is because they want to understand if anyone in your family has similar issues.
A therapist will also ask you questions about your work and how you handle work stress. They will also ask you for details about your relationship with your family members, romantic relationships, and friends.
What Should You Do after the Session?
As the first therapy session comes to an end, make sure to talk about all these points. This will give you an idea of whether you want to continue with the same therapist or look for someone else who is more suited for your issue.
Some questions you can ask your therapist before the close of the first session are:
- The length of the therapy process
- The type of therapy method that will be used
- How they will ensure confidentiality is maintained?
- The time and charges for each session
- What you can expect in each session
Remember, one bad therapist interaction does not mean that therapy does not work. Maybe you met the wrong therapist whose method is different from what you are looking for. Observe if your therapist challenges you, helps you achieve your goal, helps you learn, and treats you as an equal.
While some issues require help from a therapist, others can be handled with the help of self-help courses. If you are struggling with confidence or low self-esteem, you can check out our course “Low self-esteem” which will help you deal with your negative self-image. If you are finding it difficult to control your anger, you can check out our course on “DBT for Anger”.