Seeing a therapist for the first time can provoke anxiety for many people, so if you are one of them, don’t worry. You are not alone in this boat. The feeling of seeing a stranger who will have access to your thoughts, personal information and other problems can be uncomfortable to think about. Although you know that they are there to help you, you can’t help but feel anxious.

Before you go see a therapist, it is crucial to prepare yourself first. The first session is always about gathering your information. Your therapist is going to ask you pretty basic questions like what brings you to see them today, followed by a series of questions related to your background, relationships and other important things they need to know. They may either take notes or simply record the conversation with you so you just have to answer as best as you can. Here are important tips that you can use before seeing a therapist:

Know what you want to get out of therapy 

How are you hoping to benefit from this therapy? Think about what it is that you want to happen or what outcome you would like to have after your session is over. Are you hoping that your therapist can help you cope with stress? Do you need someone who can listen to and validate your feelings? Do you want to learn coping techniques to apply when anxiety hits? Knowing what you want from your therapy sessions will help you achieve your goals. Keep in mind that your therapy session is a place where you talk about your feelings without feeling judged, so it is best to outline your goals before going into one. 

Understand the Therapist’s Approach

One of the first things that you should know during your first session is how your therapist works. You should ask about their approach to therapy, the kind of sessions they offer (if they do per hour of sessions) as well as the types of techniques that they are experienced and trained in. By asking these questions, you will have a wider understanding about how a therapy session works. It can also lessen the anxiety that you are feeling prior to your visit. 

It’s okay to feel nervous

It’s understandable that the thought of going to therapy can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time. It is normal to feel this way, but you have to gather your courage and get through it. You are now going forward to another level of your life and I understand that it can be terrifying to share your life with a person you haven’t met, but your discomfort is just a phase and a very normal reaction to have. Remember that it is okay to feel nervous.

Make a list of the things you would like to discuss during your first session

Create a list of the things that you would like to discuss with your therapist. Maybe write down a couple of important things that you would like to talk about. It doesn’t have to be a long list, but it would be handy if you want to start a conversation. It will also give you a clear idea of what you want to discuss to begin with. 

Be honest when answering questions

Being honest whenever your therapist asks a question. Remember, your sessions are controversial and your therapist will not judge or belittle you for anything you say. Remember, you are paying the therapist to help you and putting your own time into each session, so lying to your therapist will not help you make progress. Answering his or her questions honestly also helps build trust and rapport between patient and therapist. Having a good rapport with your therapist is ideal for getting the needed work done. Your therapy will only work if you are honest and open with your therapist. 

Ask questions and don’t be afraid to do so 

Don’t shy away from asking your therapist questions. Keep in mind that this is your first session with your therapist, so it is crucial that you establish a good relationship with them. Asking questions will lessen the tension that you feel and will also help you prepare for the next session. You can ask your therapist about what to expect in your first session and even his or her counseling style. This way you can also come in with better confidence for your next sessions and not be as anxious. 

It’s okay if you don’t like a therapist

Going into therapy is a deeply personal experience, and not every approach will work for you. But don’t just judge your therapist right away. It is normal to feel pressured into this therapy but pay attention on how you feel as you go through the session. Be aware of your therapist too — how he or she treats you as a patient plays a role in your decisions of coming back for another session and if you are not comfortable. Generally, your ideal therapist should make you feel accepted unconditionally, and you should feel respected and safe within the comforts of the room. If you cannot find these in your first session then it’s okay to find another therapist to work with. You should never feel obligated to continue with a therapist if you feel they are not right for you. 

Set aside time to reflect on your first session

Clearing the time around your first session is a must. So make sure to shut off your phone and let people know that you will be away for a bit. If you don’t like the first session with your therapy, don’t schedule another session right away. You should find time to reflect on things and decompress. Once you are ready then it’s time to find a good therapist that can help you deal with your personal struggles. 

It is difficult to take the first step and make the decision to see a therapist. It’s okay to take baby steps, as long as you are making progress in the right direction. You got this!

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