Last week, after many many years of waiting, I went to my first therapy session. Therapy is something I have been contemplating and requesting for many years. When an appointment finally came through, I expected to feel overjoyed, but I didn’t. Instead, I felt anxious, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The thought of sitting in front of a stranger and talking about what my triggers are felt terrifying.
I spent hours searching the internet for answers. I was determined to fully prepare myself for my appointment, but nothing gave me the reassurance I was searching for. After all, every therapist is different and our reasons for visiting a therapist also vary greatly. Don’t get me wrong, reading about other peoples experiences did help. However, deep down I knew the only way I’d feel reassured was by facing my fears and attending my appointment.
With my best friend by my side, I went to my appointment, and you know what? It was nowhere near as scary as I thought it was going to be. I felt proud of myself, and now that I’ve done it once, I know I can do it again, and again, and again. On the way home I was thinking about everything that had happened in the appointment and realized I hadn’t known what to expect at all. I knew I had to write a blog post sharing my thoughts. I wanted to help others who are feeling anxious about their first therapy session.
First things first, it’s important to know that if you don’t want to say something, nobody is going to force you. Therapists offer guidance and a listening ear. They won’t push you to explore feelings and emotions that you aren’t quite ready to explore. Therapists will go at your pace, and you may find that once you start talking, you won’t stop.
The first therapy session is where your therapist will want to get to know you. They’ll already know the basics from your records, but they’ll want to know more details about you, your family and your lifestyle. Without any background knowledge they can’t form a relationship with you, so try and be as open as you can. They may also ask what you hope to gain from attending therapy, it’s okay to say that you aren’t sure.
It’s totally normal to feel a little overwhelmed at your first therapy session, getting therapy is a huge step. In hindsight, I wish I’d written down everything I wanted to ask my therapist. Once I was in the room, all of the questions in my head disappeared. Perhaps take some time out before your appointment to think about what you need/want to ask your therapist, it’s better to be over-prepared than under prepared.
Expect to feel emotional. even if your mindset is good on the day. I was fine, I chatted about my children, my difficult family relationships, my past, and I still felt fine. I felt fine right up until tears started falling down my face. It was as if a can of worms had been opened without me even noticing. It felt good to get everything out in a therapeutic setting, but I didn’t expect to feel emotionally wrung out afterward.
One-to-one sessions usually last between 50 minutes and an hour and you’ll be amazed at how fast that time goes. By the time you’ve got introductory pleasantries out of the way and delved into why you are there, your session will be coming to an end.
It really isn’t as scary as it seems. If you are about to attend your first therapy session, please take note of everything I have said in this post. I hope that knowing what to expect will help you to feel at ease and make the most of your first therapy session. If you are still feeling anxious please don’t hesitate to email me with any questions you may have. I know that different therapists will work differently, but talking to someone who has experienced similar can and will help. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org 24/7, 365 days a year.