1. Being anxious- It is very normal to be nervous about talking to a stranger about very personal problems. One way to reduce this is to select the best therapist for you and the issue you want to address. I advise people to “interview” at least 3 potential therapist to ensure they get the best match. Most therapist offer free phone consultation which gives you the opportunity to get a feel for their style and approach. Walk away from any one lacking professionalism, listen to your instincts.
2. Lots of questions- Many mental health therapists have different approaches to treatment but the first session is always going to be about getting to know you and your concerns. This appointment will be a chance for the therapist to gain information for a possible diagnosis. Its okay if you do not know how to describe your problem, we are trained to assist you with that. So, expect many, many, questions and some that may surprise you. You will be asked about your childhood and medical history. And you may not spend a great deal of time addressing your problem directly during a first visit.
3. Paper work and payment- Just like your first trip to the doctor, a therapist will be required to get your signature on important documentation. Make sure you read what you sign and ask questions if needed. Some therapist will provide the paperwork to you prior to the session either to submit electronically or to bring in with you. You will also be responsible to pay at the time of your appointment. So check with your insurance company and the therapist about cost beforehand.
4. Its educational and requires active participation- many aspects of therapy involve teaching and applying newly learned skills. You may be given homework assignments to further understand your behaviors and encourage you to make changes successfully.
5. Enjoyable and exhausting- A therapy office can be very calming and relaxing as pictured on television. You can be yourself and yes even lay down on the couch. Nothing is more calming than speaking to someone who does not judge you and provides validation. But you may experience a wide range of emotions. Therapy isn’t just a place to cry but you can expect to laugh too. Some appointments you may feel no improvement and that’s okay. Therapy is a process not a quick fix. To have lasting improvement you will need to commit to more than one session.