What to Expect During your First Therapy Session
Attending your first therapy appointment can be intimidating + scary, and there are a lot of misconceptions about what happens in a first therapy appointment. These nerves are completely understandable, because often people explore topics in therapy that are deeply personal + can be difficult to talk about, especially to someone that is a stranger at first!
I currently work as a therapist in training, + have had a handful of first intake therapy appointments with clients. Here are a few things to expect:
#1] Paperwork – It is common there will be some type of paperwork involved to collect demographic + insurance information, as well as fees for services + HIPPA information. Do not hesitate to ask any questions about this paperwork! An important piece often includes a confidentiality agreement; meaning whatever is said during therapy sessions remain confidential aside from circumstances of anyone being in harm [plan to harm yourself or harm someone else]. Find more about this here!
#2] Helicopter Flyover – This is the term I use to describe an initial session. It is a brief flyover of your life; the initial session is an opportunity for your therapist to get to know you + for *you* to get to know your therapist. You can expect questions like the following:
- Where are you from?
- Can you tell me about your family?
- What is your past medical history?
- What is your relationship history?
- Have you seen a therapist before?
- What do you like to do for self-care?
Not too bad, right? : ) Also, you may not vibe with your therapist right away. I encourage you to give it a few more sessions before you decide to try a different therapist. Therapists understand that not everyone is a fit for them + this is part of the process!
#3] Goals Of Therapy – Your therapist will ask what is bringing you into therapy at this current time. This question will help your therapist guide future sessions + understand what your goals of therapy may be. You do not have to talk about anything in therapy that you are not comfortable with! You can mention that you are coming in for a certain reason, but you are not ready to provide any details. That is okay! The therapist will let you guide the pace of your healing journey. You can expect questions like the following:
- What is bringing you into therapy at this time?
- Do you feel that anything is off in your life?
- Are you experiencing any symptoms?
- What are you hoping to gain from therapy?
#4] Overview Of Therapy – You can expect to learn, understand + ask about how the process of therapy will work. Not much can be done in one session, therapy can take multiple sessions + lots of time. Therefore, during your initial session you can start to understand what this will look like [aka how long the sessions will be, how many sessions a week, etc.]. In addition, every therapist has a specific style they practice from — you can ask your therapist to describe their *therapeutic style* to learn more about them as a therapist!
#5] Non-Judgment Safe Space – Therapy is a space where you can sit with someone, completely non-bias to your life, + have them listen to your story whole heartedly. You can expect to have a therapist who will accept you for exactly who you are! If you do not feel this non-judgmental acceptance for any reason, this therapist may not be for you + that is okay!
++ Alissa Becker, a therapist in training ; )