What To Expect During Your First Therapy Session
Before attending a therapy session, it's important to find a therapist before you even ask, "How many therapy sessions do I need?" Because the appropriate therapist can guide you through the process and assist you negotiate challenging periods when therapy gets hard. You may look for one online or in person, and it can be helpful to ask them questions about their therapeutic approach, credentials, and experience. During your first session, you’ll likely sit down with your therapist and answer a variety of therapy questions about your past experiences, current difficulties, and the reason you’ve decided to seek professional help. Often, treatment doesn’t begin until later sessions. If traditional therapy isn’t convenient or accessible to you, online therapy can be an effective alternative.
Getting Ready For The First Therapy Session
There may be many different reasons why people decide to seek help through therapy. There may be traumas from your past that you haven’t healed from, or you may be experiencing a situation that is causing you stress or anxiety. Some people attend because they are experiencing symptoms of depression, and others attend to save their relationship or work through conflict. Regardless of why an individual chooses to seek help from therapy, many may wonder what to expect from the first therapy session, particularly if they’ve never gotten professional mental health help before.
Those who are new to therapy may be nervous because they’re entering an unfamiliar situation. You might try not to let your worries get the best of you. Your therapist may offer help in the areas it’s most needed, even if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. To help ease your mind, here are some things that may help you feel prepared for your first therapy session.
What To Expect During Your First Session
To start therapy, you need to find a therapist first. The key to finding the right therapist may depend on why you’ve decided to seek help from therapy. Different therapists may focus on different situations or concerns, use a variety of therapy approaches, and work with different individuals or groups. When looking for a therapist, it can be helpful to know what you are looking for and why you want help. This can guide you in finding the right type of therapist for you.
It can also be important that you find a therapist you feel comfortable with. You might seek out a therapist who has a background or values that are similar to yours. For instance, if you’re religious, you might look for a therapist who has the same faith. Or maybe you’re more comfortable speaking to someone of the same gender.
When choosing a therapist, you may also want to compare the prices of therapy at different offices. It’s often smart to begin by checking with your insurance company to see if they cover mental health services, such as meeting with a licensed therapist. If they do, then you may wish to look for a therapist covered by your insurance. Your insurance provider may provide a list of services and mental health providers within your area. However, if you don’t have insurance that will cover any of the costs, you may want to start comparing credentials and prices.
Remember that the cheapest option may not always be the best. You generally want to find the proper balance of cost savings and services. Going with the cheapest option may not save you money if it’s not effective.
Questions To Ask Potential Therapists
When looking for a therapist, there may be a few questions that you should think about asking. The answers that you receive to these questions can help you determine which therapist you ultimately want to work with.
What type of therapist are you? Different doctors may specialize in different things, and the same is often true of mental health professionals.
What kind of training have you had? There may be some counselors that aren’t formally trained. These professionals might refer to themselves as “life coaches” or “personal developmental coaches.” While they may have training in some areas, you may want to ensure they have the proper training, education, and certifications for the help you are looking for.
Do you need to have a diagnosis? If you have health insurance that will cover your therapy sessions, you will most likely need an official diagnosis. This is something that your therapist may be able to discuss with you.
What is your policy on confidentiality? If your therapist doesn’t have a policy on confidentiality, you may want to find a different person to meet with.
Are you experienced in this area? If you know that you are experiencing the symptoms of a specific mental health condition or have specific concerns, then you might ask any potential therapists what kind of experience they have in that area.
How many appointments will I need to have? If a therapist can tell you from the start how many sessions you need to have, you may want to be skeptical of their treatment. An experienced therapist generally won’t be willing to specify the number of sessions that will be necessary before they get to know you. They will typically want to become familiar with you and the reasons you’re seeking treatment to better understand the type of help you may need.
Will I have homework? Many therapists will send you home with work that needs to be accomplished. This work can help you put into practice the things you need to learn to improve your situation.
What May Happen During Your First Therapy Session
The first therapy session may be very similar to the first time that you meet someone new. You will generally sit on a couch or chair in a personal room with your therapist as you talk. Your therapist will likely have many questions that you may need to answer truthfully to have the best experience and ultimately receive the proper treatment. However, most therapists aren’t necessarily going to dive right into the questions you may find difficult. They may ease you in, get to know you, and help you grow more comfortable speaking with them. This may encourage you to open up and eventually move on to more difficult topics.
Depending on the exact setup of the therapist's office, you will most likely need to complete a form with detailed questions that may help the therapist get to know you and why you are reaching out for therapy at that particular time. Many therapists will look over this information before meeting with you. This information you’ve given may help your therapist understand a little about you and make the best use of the time during the session.
During that first therapy session, the therapist will typically want to understand who you are and what concerns you may have regarding your mental health or personal challenges you may be experiencing. This could include things like what you do for a living, how your physical health is and what your goals are. They may discuss how the two of you will proceed with counseling sessions and their plan for future sessions. They may also give you a chance to ask questions as well.
When A Second Opinion May Be Necessary
If you are attending therapy with the hope of making quick progress, the first session may leave you feeling frustrated. While you may want answers, you may not necessarily end up with many from the first meeting. The first session tends to be more about setting the stage than diving into the issues that brought you to counseling. However, it can be important not to feel discouraged if you feel disappointed in the initial session. The therapist may need to gather basic information from you during the first session before getting started on your treatment.
As you get further into your therapy sessions, you may start to find that you have more and more breakthroughs with your initial concerns or challenges. If you’ve been attending therapy sessions for several months and aren’t noticing any breakthroughs or improvements in your life, then you may want to make some changes. First, you might ask yourself if you’ve been doing what your counselor is asking you to do. If you’ve been putting in effort and still aren’t making progress, you may want to get a second opinion from a new therapist. Not every therapist may be the right one for you, and that’s okay. Many people try working with two or more mental health professionals before they find the one they connect with.
Online Therapy Can Be An Alternative To In-Person Therapy
If you’re considering therapy, you may want to consider whether you’d like to see a therapist in-person or online. Online therapy platforms can be a great option for people who don’t live near an office with licensed therapists or for those looking to save money. Online therapy can also be very convenient if you have a busy schedule, as it can give you the freedom to get the treatment you need at your convenience from wherever you have an internet connection.
In addition to being convenient, research shows that online therapy can be an equally effective form of treatment for a variety of mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety, and more, when compared to face-to-face options.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Should I Say?
During your first therapy session, your therapist will likely guide the conversation by asking you many questions about your background, any challenges you’re currently experiencing, and what brought you to therapy. The most important thing is often to be open and honest with your therapist so that they can put together an effective treatment plan for you.
What are the common questions asked during the initial session?
What would you expect in your first therapy session?
What is the objective of the first therapy session?
Are initial sessions usually uncomfortable?
How can the therapist make the first session less awkward?
Why is the initial therapy session usually a difficult one?
What are the statistics on people who drop out of their initial appointment?
What are the different ways to relax after an intense initial therapy?
What is a therapy hangover?
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