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What to expect from your first therapy session


So you wanna go to therapy. Congratulations! Way to go! It is awesome that you are taking a first step to achieving mental wellness. If you’ve never been to therapy before, you might not know what to expect from your first therapy session. The first time can definitely be nerve-wracking, so I’ve compiled a handy, dandy guide for you.

Here’s what to expect from your first therapy session:

“Why are you here?”:

One of the first questions your therapist will probably ask is why you’re seeking therapy. Be prepared to answer this question openly and honestly – and feel free to prepare a statement beforehand if you find it difficult to talk about!

When I first started therapy I was so closed off that evening answering this question felt way too vulnerable. If you don’t express everything right away, that’s okay! You will have plenty of future opportunity to do so, but know that your therapist will better be able to help you if he/she knows why you’re there.

Low intensity:

Your first therapy session will be much more of a get-to-know-you session than a working session. It will be a chance for you and your therapist to feel each other out. Your therapist will probably ask about your background, your career, your family, your friends, and your relationships. They will spend most of the first session just getting a sense of who you are. Feel free to ask them questions in return! The first session exists to ease you into the process of therapy – don’t stress about having a difficult session right off the bat.

A first date vibe:

When I first started therapy, I got lucky and found the perfect therapist right away. She laughed at my jokes, gently called me out when I was using humor as a deflection tool, and really worked to understand me.

However, the first therapist you try is not always “the one.” Finding a therapist is a lot like dating – you might find one that’s a perfect match; who understands you and who you can open up to, or you might find one that’s on a completely different page than you are. Your first session might also feel a little awkward as you feel each other out, like most first dates do.

When I first moved to Philadelphia. I tried out a new therapist who was…kuckoo. She kept talking about energies and auras and I knew she wasn’t going to be a good fit. I wasted money on 3 sessions (one of which she ended 30 minutes early because she decided we had nothing else to talk about), before admitting that we were not a match. Learn from my mistakes – listen to yourself and don’t settle until you find a therapist who is a good fit for you! Don’t get discouraged. As the saying goes, there are more therapists in the sea.

Not being “cured”:

Unfortunately, therapy is not a quick-fix. One session is most likely not going to make you feel instantly “cured.” After the first session you might not feel different at all, and may even question if it was worth it. That’s totally normal! Therapy is a process which like the best things in life, takes time. Don’t go into your first session expecting to feel better immediately. Go into it knowing that it’s just the first step to feeling better.

Emotional fatigue:

Your first therapy session (really, any therapy session) can be draining, especially if you’re not used to opening up about your issue(s). Being vulnerable is hard mental and emotional work, and it can leave you feeling drained or slightly out-of it afterwards.

I recommend scheduling your first session at a time where you don’t have something else going on immediately afterwards. You might need some time to decompress and engage in some solo self-care before you jump back into your day.

Relief and Pride:

You did it! The hardest part of going to therapy is getting started. After your first session, you should feel so proud of yourself. There is nothing more important than taking care of your mental health. As each session goes on, you’ll get more and more comfortable and be able to feel the progress you’re making. While you might keep your therapy on the down low at first, pretty soon you’ll be out there tweeting about things your therapist says, just like the rest of us.

Now that’re prepared with what to expect from your first therapy session, I wish you good vibes and wellness. Go forth and mentally prosper!


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