After this post you might might be considering getting a therapist. If so, great! Personally, making that call to set up the first appointment was hard. I straight up told my therapist that even though I needed to talk to her, I really didn’t want to. I also didn’t know what exactly would happen at the first appointment.
What you should do…
- Purge: to get the most out of your very first session you must be willing to let it all out. The more you share the more the therapist can assess your needs and help.
- Be honest: with the therapist and with yourself. If you’re hurt say it. If you have regrets talk about it. This ties directly to purging. You can’t move forward if you aren’t being transparent.
- Accept that you may be nervous: you might feel really uneasy about this. You’ve made a decision to meet with someone you don’t even know and expose yourself fully to them. That’s a huge deal! It’s OK to be nervous and this is something that you can share with the therapist too.
- Understand it’s OK to be emotional: everyone’s expression of emotion is different. At my first session I cried. You might feel sad but shed no tears. Maybe you’ll feel extremely vulnerable. Whatever you feel is perfectly fine. Just expect that you will be hit with a wave of emotions as things are being put out in the open and your therapist gives feedback.
- Have a goal: In my first session my therapist asked me “Why are you here?” Clearly you didn’t make an appointment just to give money away so there must be a reason. For example: help with anger issues. Even if you don’t know the full scope of what you need from a therapist there should be some idea of why you sought out sessions. To me this is like an addict admitting that they have a problem. There’s no way to fix something that isn’t confessed.
- Smile from the feeling of relief!: I asked around and the consensus is the same. After your first appointment it’s likely that you’ll feel lighter. This is especially true if you’ve been holding in a lot of your emotions like I did. Do you have a friend or family member that you share your thoughts and emotions with? Even if you do, a therapist is trained to not just listen but give you real help to improve your life. They are objective. So again, burden lifted.
What the therapist should do…
What about them? Are they supposed to just sit there in a fancy leather chair and scribble notes? (Maybe I’ve watched too many movies) Anyway the answer is no. Here are some things to expect from your new therapist.
- Make you feel comfortable or safe: again this will vary depending on the person. But some things that might make you feel safe would be: warm paint or décor in the office, fluffy pillows on the patient couch, candles, soft music, essential oil burning, low lighting, natural lighting. Or it could just be a warm vibe that you get from the therapist themselves.
- A lot of listening: your therapist might not say much on your first visit. Remember this is a time for you to unload so they can assess your unique situation. If they ask questions or need more clarity on something try not to clam up. Give them what they need to help you.
- Honesty: unfortunately there’s a chance that the therapist you see may not be able to treat you. Their expertise could be in a field totally unrelated to your needs. If this is the case they might have a colleague to refer you to. It would be very disappointing to open up to someone and then have to do it all over again with someone else. So my advice here is to research before making your first appointment. Make sure the therapist you’re seeing has training in the areas that you need.
- A treatment plan: If you and the new therapist agree that you’re a good fit together then treatment options would be a good thing to discuss. For me the main thing was to treat my mild depression so we talked about some lifestyle changes that would help.
If you’d like to see a therapist check with your health care provider on if this is a service that’s covered. If you don’t have health insurance see if your potential therapist will take “sliding scale” payments which is when they’ll take whatever payment you can afford out of pocket, within reason. Another option is checking into your additional employee benefits. I’ve seen an increase in companies offering “wellness” or “work/life balance” options to their employees for free. Counseling or therapy usually falls into this category.
Looking for more? If you’ve decided to add therapy to your life, great! Click here to find out what things can happen in your life after you start your sessions.
If you’re in therapy do you remember what your first appointment was like. Please share some tips! Questions for me?
Until next time…