You did it. You scheduled your first therapy appointment. Now what? For many new clients, therapy may be daunting because it is an entirely new experience. Perhaps the only exposure you’ve had with therapy is from a tv screen. Although you’ve seen clips of other people, actors, in therapy, but what really happens in real life therapy?
In our practice, we believe it is important to make therapy a respectful and comfortable process. When you walk into our waiting room, you are greeted by soft lighting, background music, and a beverage station. We want our clients to make themselves comfortable. While not every therapy office may have a similar set up, there are general themes that you may experience in a therapy room near you. We’ve made a list of things you could expect in your first therapy session.
- Feeling anxious. It is a normal experience for you to feel nervous, anxious, or unsure. Those are natural reactions to new situations. Your therapist may check in with you and ask the infamous question, “How are you feeling?” Share that you’re nervous; we are fully prepared to process your feelings as a way to better get to know you and to help you feel more comfortable in this new experience.
- 50-minute hour. Therapist time is not the regular time. We count a full session typically as 50 minutes and we call it an hour. Many of us like punctuality, so we appreciate when clients are on time. Also, if you arrive more than 15 minutes late you may be rescheduled because therapy cannot unfold like it needs to in 30 minutes. Having said that, we’re also a flexible bunch and realize that at times we may run over our session due to the nature of the session.
- Questions. Your therapist wants to get to know you, the reason you are seeking support, things you’ve done before to try to address your concerns, etc. Feel free to ask your therapist questions too; you want to make sure that your therapist is a good fit and someone you can trust to support you.
- It’s okay to not have a goal for therapy. It’s very common for your therapist to ask you, “What do you want to get out of therapy?” It’s okay if you don’t know exactly what you want from therapy during your first session. The main point is, you showed up and you are talking. During the course of therapy, your therapist will help you create and achieve your goals.
- Expectations. Therapy is a process and will take time for your issue to resolve. Most likely, your issue won’t resolve itself in 50-minutes and you may leave a session feeling like you just scratched the surface. Your therapist may talk with you about returning on a weekly or every other week basis to start feeling a change.
- Paperwork. During the first session, your therapist will have you complete some basic paperwork and a consent for treatment form will be reviewed. The paperwork should explain that your sessions are confidential, with some exceptions due to safety reasons. This is an opportunity for you to ask questions and get clarification if you are uncertain how your information will be stored.