If you’re planning to sit down for a psychotherapy session, then you might be feeling a little apprehensive. It can be daunting. It was a big step to take so, what can you expect? It’s important to remember that no therapist is the same. The best way for you to ensure yours is going to give you what you need is to ask questions.
The beginning of your visit will feel much like a doctor’s appointment. You will sign in, sit in their waiting room, and wait to be called. If your therapist practices from home, then it might be a more casual setting.
On your first visit, there will likely be paperwork for you to fill out. This will include your symptoms, medical history, and any medications you take.
The First Meeting
The first session will be different from a standard visit. In the initial visit, you will have an opportunity to get to know the therapist and vice versa. It’s at this point you will mutually decide how to advance your therapy. After this, your visits will be more therapeutic. You will be able to explore specific problems, traumas or symptoms that you raised in the initial session.
Psychotherapy requires multiple visits. You won’t be handed an instant solution on day one, though, you may feel lighter walking out. It’s the first step in the process and that feels great! The purpose of therapy is to provide you with long-term solutions to the issues you face, it isn’t a quick fix.
In the first session, the therapist will likely ask you questions to explore what brought you to therapy. They will want to know what symptoms you’re experiencing, what you feel is wrong with your life, and some history about education, living situation, career, relationships, and even your childhood. It’s at this stage you will likely discuss how long your treatment will be and what type of methods will be used.
Once the therapist has had time to get to know your history, they will ask you if there’s anything you’d like to know. This is your chance to get to know them. As with any situation, we often struggle to come up with questions, shrugging and saying no, that’s fine! So, here are some questions to consider asking.
- How long will sessions last?
- What will my sessions look like?
- How many sessions are required to resolve my particular issue?
- You may want to ask questions about confidentiality to put your mind at ease.
To be successful, you need to feel comfortable. Therapy requires open, honest communication. If you don’t feel it after a few sessions, then you may want to choose a new therapist. Or, raise the problem with your therapist to discuss why that might be. Your therapist should offer compassion and acceptance, they should challenge you, guide you, and check-in to see how you’re progressing.
This is something therapists are accustomed to. If you choose not to return, simply inform the therapist at the close of the session. They will more than likely ask why, but a professional will recommend someone who is a better fit.