What the first counselling session might look like?
In this brief blog, we will discuss the ins and outs of the first therapy session you may have, what to expect from your first therapy session and ways to manage those expectations. Keep an eye out for important questions to ask in your first session!
What the first session might look like?
The first time you see the therapist will be different from subsequent appointments. The first visit is an opportunity for you and your therapist to get to know one another and have a sense of how things will go.
The nature of future visits will be more therapeutic. For example, in your second session, you could delve more into a certain symptom, problem, or previous trauma that you brought up in the first.Remember that therapies such as psychotherapy normally need numerous appointments, so don’t expect immediate relief from your difficulties on the first day.
Therapy is about giving you long-term solutions rather than a fast fix. Your therapist may ask you at the first appointment some of the following questions :
- What are your symptoms?
- What drew you to therapy in the first place?
- What do you think is going on in your life that you don’t like?
- Some questions regarding your background, such as your childhood, schooling, relationships (family, romantic, and friends), present living status, and career.
- You and your therapist should also agree on the duration of your treatment, the methods that will be used, and the ins and outs of patient confidentiality.
It’s also a good idea to prepare questions for your therapist ahead of time. Consider what anxieties or concerns you may have about treatment before your appointment, and then come up with a list of questions to ask your therapist.
Consider the following scenario:
- Is this a private conversation?
- When do you think you’ll need to break the rules of confidentiality?
- What is your experience as a therapist?
- Do you have any experience with the type of mental health challenges I’m dealing with?
- Have you ever visited a therapist?
- What should I do in the intervals between our sessions?
What to expect from yourself?
Your therapist will most likely ask you a lot of questions about yourself, how you deal, and your symptoms during your first session (essentially an interview). You can also talk about your therapy goals, expectations, and other topics. Even if you don’t anticipate it, your first therapy session can be emotionally draining.
Many things your brain has worked hard to conceal can be unearthed during therapy, including difficult memories and sensations you may not have been able to explore on your own. And as you sit down for your first session of therapy, the floodgates may open… whether you want them to or not.
This is to be anticipated, to be honest. Even still, it can be shocking, especially if you find yourself opening up to a stranger in ways you haven’t been able to open up to others.Don’t be alarmed by it.
One of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself is to be open and honest with your therapist. Also, keep in mind that not every session will be as intense. It’s not uncommon for people to be exhausted when they first begin therapy. That’s OK.
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
Expect to feel uncomfortable at times.
You’ll enjoy going to therapy at times and despise it at others, just like you do with your workouts. This is especially true if you’re currently attempting to navigate virtual therapy.
“Change is difficult. It will be uncomfortable at times, but it’s all part of the process to get you to where you want to be,” Dr. Smith says, adding that the intensity of the sessions will be monitored by a professional psychologist so that it isn’t minute-by-minute or session-by-session of deep, hard work.
Dr. Gur specialises in treating anxiety and depression, and she adds that while clients work through the uncomfortable problems, their symptoms may become worse.
Identify your goals
In order for your therapist to build an effective treatment plan, it’s a good idea to set therapy goals. You and your therapist can work together to set attainable goals to work toward.
Learning healthy coping skills to deal with parenting stress, managing bipolar disease symptoms, improving sleep quality, or overcoming your fear of public speaking are just a few examples. Whatever your goals are, you should go into your first session with realistic expectations.
Your therapist will also assist you in setting expectations and developing a strategy for reaching your objectives.
Speaking about disagreements with your therapist : an open and honest conversation
Therapy should feel like a safe, comfortable environment where you are free to express yourself. This includes situations where you don’t comprehend anything, your therapist irritates you, you disagree with what they’ve said, or you’re afraid of what they’ll say.
Dr. Gur says, “I like it when patients bring these topics up.” “It’s critical for me to comprehend their circumstances so that I can better assist them.” Giving your therapist feedback is an extremely beneficial aspect of therapy.
This not only allows your therapist to adapt treatment to what will work best for you if you struggle with conflict avoidance or asserting yourself, but it also allows you to practise if you struggle with conflict avoidance or asserting yourself.
For example, if you despise journaling and know you won’t be able to complete it, let them know before you fail to complete a school assignment. “The only way you’ll get true help is if you lay all your cards on the table,” Dr. Howes explains. “I once had a customer say, ‘I’m angry at you for being late,’ and we both applauded it because he was able to assert himself,” says the author.
What to do when you don’t want to move forward with that therapist ?
If you believe your therapist is no longer benefiting you, it’s worth discussing ending your relationship, especially if you’ve been working together for a long period. “Rather than merely leaving treatment, it’s necessary to investigate things.”
“There can be a lot of excellent stuff,” Dr. Smith continues, “and if you don’t address it, you might discover the same thing in the next therapist.”
Because building a relationship with your therapist and feeling positive progress toward your goals takes time, it’s best to be patient and attempt a few sessions with them before deciding whether or not to continue working with them.
“By the conclusion of the first few sessions, you should have a new knowledge of your problem, a game plan, and a new sense of hope,” according to the APA.
The following are signs that this therapist isn’t right for you:
- You don’t feel connected to your therapist.
- You don’t see any signs of progress in the direction of change.
- You’ve left each session feeling befuddled or discouraged.
Mental health therapy is a slow but steady process of gaining new insights, overcoming obstacles, defining and attaining objectives, and improving your overall well-being and quality of life.
The first session is only the start of a potentially fruitful journey. You and your therapist can begin to create rapport, trust, and a vital sense of hope for healing with preparation and reasonable expectations.
Therapy should be about progress even if it is work : A reminder
Keep in mind that you’re investing your time, money, and feelings in this process and this person. Those aren’t stuff to throw away, so insist on getting what you need, and if you don’t, find someone who will. Adulting is difficult, but treatment can help—don’t give up.
Manage Your Expectations
The first meeting can also include certain chores such as :
- Taking care of billing and insurance information.
- Getting started on papers (your address, contact information, emergency contacts, authorizations to obtain information from or provide information to others, if applicable).
- Explicitly describing the therapeutic procedure.
- Confidentiality is discussed.
Each meeting will build on the previous ones, but this one will start from scratch. You can be apprehensive and unsure of what to say (which is why having a prepared list of topics and knowing your reason for seeking therapy can be extremely helpful).
Because your therapist doesn’t know much about you, if anything at all, they’ll likely ask you a lot of questions as they learn more about you and what you’re going through.
You may be asked questions about your childhood, education, employment, relationships, thoughts, feelings, or behaviours, depending on the therapist and their approach to treatment. Your replies assist your therapist in better understanding you and determining how to best assist you. Often, an introductory session is required.
Taking the first step on a new path to improved mental health can be scary. Getting through the first appointment may be one of the hardest parts of starting therapy. However, by taking everything one step at a time and communicating openly about your goals with your therapist, you can set yourself up for the best possible experience.
What we recommend for Counselling
If you are suffering from depression or any other mental disorders then ongoing professional counselling could be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.
Find Hope and Healing Through Online Counseling on BetterHelp
At some point in our lives, we all face challenges that can feel overwhelming and difficult to overcome.
BetterHelp offers accessible, affordable, and confidential online counselling that can provide you with the support and guidance you need to navigate life’s ups and downs. Our licensed therapists specialize in a variety of areas, including depression, anxiety, relationships, and more, and can provide you with personalized therapy that fits your unique needs and circumstances.
Don’t struggle alone – sign up for BetterHelp today and start your journey towards healing and growth with the help of a compassionate and experienced therapist.