Preparing for Therapy

What should you expect at your first therapy session? This is a question that I'm sure you may have, because it can certainly seem quite a daunting experience at first. One thing to expect for sure is to be asked a lot of questions by your therapist, and to feel like you are talking a lot (for example, they may want to know why you chose to seek therapy, past experiences). It might be helpful to think a bit before the session about what you want out of therapy or even to journal for a week or two before the first appointment so that you can communicate these ideas or anything you notice in your daily life that you want to discuss with your therapist; if you have worked with a therapist before, perhaps you may also think about what has worked or did not work in the past so that your current therapist can understand how you work best. 

It is also okay to just say whatever comes to mind, such as if you may not know the answer to a question or feel uncomfortable with talking about a certain topic for now. The three main, important aspects of the initial sessions are really to make sure that 1) you and your therapist are on the same page regarding your goals for therapy, 2) you know when and how to provide feedback to your therapist, and 3) both you and your therapist assess whether you are a good fit for each other. 

Feedback and fit are important to discuss, as studies have actually found that the strength of the patient-therapist relationship accounts for nearly 70% of therapy success, and it is a good idea to ask in the first or second session how to provide feedback to your therapist (e.g. how the therapist responds to you, how you feel about the pace of progress) as well. You will usually know if the fit is right after the first three sessions, so it is helpful to ask whether they feel that it is a good match at the end of the first session so that if it isn't, you can work together to figure out why this is so. 

Concluding each session by summarizing the key takeaways can help refresh and remind you of any insights from earlier in the session. Lastly, it is important to know that therapy may not make you feel better immediately, but also be proud of yourself for taking the first step towards feeling better!