What will happen in my first therapy session?
The decision of going to therapy can be difficult, as this might be the first time you have shared your concerns and feelings with someone. We understand the nervousness that might come up during this first therapy session, and we also understand that we are strangers asking you to tell us about your experiences. We, as therapists, are aware of this, and our first main objective is to create a safe and comfortable space for you to open up. We understand how you feel, and will empathise with your situation, accepting what you share with non-judgement. We are trained to help you with your concerns, so we invite you to share as much as you can, as this will help us to comprehend your situation better.
We appreciate the uneasiness the first therapy session can cause, and for this reason, we wanted to explain to you what you can expect. This first therapy session, often called initial assessment, is an essential part of the therapeutic process. It serves as an opportunity for you and the therapist to establish a connection, discuss your concerns, and gather relevant information.
What to expect during your first therapy session
Here's what you might expect during your first therapy session:
- Introduction and building rapport: The therapist will introduce themselves and explain their role and the therapeutic process. They may share information about their professional qualifications and the confidentiality guidelines. They'll aim to create a safe and comfortable space, fostering an atmosphere of trust and collaboration.
- Administrative tasks: At the beginning of the session, the therapist may ask you to complete some paperwork, such as consent forms, personal information forms, or questionnaires. These forms help the therapist understand your background and gather important information about your current situation.
- Discussion of difficulties and goals: You'll have the opportunity to discuss the reasons that led you to seek therapy and express your concerns and goals. The therapist will actively listen, ask relevant questions, and seek clarification to gain a comprehensive understanding of your situation.
- Background: The therapist may ask questions about your personal history, including your upbringing, family background, relationships, education, and any significant life events. This information helps them understand the context in which your current challenges may be rooted.
- Symptoms and emotional state: You'll be encouraged to share details about your current symptoms, emotions, and experiences. The therapist may inquire about the duration and intensity of your symptoms, as well as any triggers or patterns they've observed.
- Therapeutic approach: The therapist may explain their therapeutic approach and how it aligns with your concerns and goals.
- Questions: Feel free to ask any questions or raise concerns you have about the therapeutic process, confidentiality, or any other relevant topics. The therapist will address your queries and ensure that you feel informed and comfortable moving forward.
- Session logistics: Towards the end of the session, you'll discuss practical details such as the frequency and duration of sessions, the fee structure, cancellation policies, and scheduling.
Questions therapists ask in the first session
The first therapy session is an opportunity for your therapist to understand your situation. As mentioned above, it is important to gather basic information about your current problems, symptoms, background and goals for therapy. While it will vary from person to person, your therapist might ask you about the following:
- Have you attended therapy before? Has it helped you?
- Why have you decided to seek therapy at this time?
- What are your present symptoms, challenges or concerns? When have they started?
- What triggered these symptoms?
- How are you coping at the moment?
- Are there any significant life events or experiences that have influenced your current situation?
- How is your life at home?
- How is your relationship with family or friends?
- What has helped you cope in the past?
- What would you like to get from therapy?
It's important to remember that therapy is a collaborative process, and you have the opportunity to share as much or as little information as you feel comfortable with. The therapist will use these questions as a guide while also adapting to your unique needs and preferences.
How to prepare for the first therapy session
There is no real need to prepare for your first therapy session. Your therapist will ask you questions and will guide the session, so you don’t have to worry about anything. If possible, the only tip we could give you for your first therapy session is to have an idea of what are your difficulties and concerns, and what you would like to obtain from therapy. This doesn’t mean you need to prepare what you are going to say or share with your therapist, but just having an idea of your main problems, how you feel and what you might need to improve your situation. This can help your therapist to design a treatment plan focused on what is important for you.
Don’t worry if you don’t have it clear what is the problem or what you need to enhance your emotional well-being, we understand that brains are complex, and sometimes we can feel so overwhelmed, that we lack clarity. Therapy can help to gain that clarity.
Questions to ask your therapist during your first meeting
Not only your therapist will gather information from you, but you also have the opportunity to ask the therapist any doubts you might have. You can write them down ahead of the session if you believe that is going to help you. For example, you might want to gather the following information:
- What is your therapeutic approach?
- How long have you been a therapist?
- Do you have any experience with my specific type of mental health issues?
- Have you ever been to therapy yourself?
- What kind of things should I plan to do between our sessions?
- What is your availability for sessions?
Asking these questions can help you decide whether you want to start the therapy process with this therapist or try with another person.
Remember, the first therapy session is an opportunity for both you and the therapist to get to know each other and determine if you feel comfortable working together. It's okay to have some nervousness or uncertainty, and the therapist will do their best to create a supportive environment. Open and honest communication is crucial to building a strong therapeutic relationship, so feel free to express your thoughts and concerns throughout the session.