how to prepare for your first therapy session

What your first therapy session looks like

You've been thinking about calling a therapist for a while. You've been getting into arguments with your partner, your stomach is in knots, old memories have been creeping up in your mind, you cry sometimes and everything seems to be falling apart. You've tried to hold it together, but you are coming unglued. You know you need help, but you're not sure what therapy looks like. So here is a sneak peek into your first therapy session.

Before we dive in, note that therapists have different styles, so I'm basing this post off of how I run my first session.

Your first contact with me will probably be through an email or a call. If you send me an email, I'll ask to schedule a 15-minute phone consultation call with you. During this time, we talk a bit about what problems you're having, how you've tried to solve them, your prior experiences in therapy (don't worry you don't have to have prior therapy experiences), what your goals for therapy are, as well as issues regarding insurance and the cost of therapy. This is a time for you to get to know me, ask me any pressing questions you have as well as decide if I'm a good fit for you. Note that not every therapist call will be a great fit-hence the need for consultation.

If we decide that I cannot meet your needs, I'll either refer you to someone else or point you in the right direction. I don't work with every single person who calls me-I like to work with people for whom I can get results. But if we do decide that we want to work together, then we move on to step 2.

You'll get an email from me welcoming you to therapy. I'll also give you directions to my office and I'll send you paperwork to fill out. This gives you a chance to read over it and sign it if you agree. Doing this ahead of time will give us more time to dive into what brought you to therapy in the first place.

Your first session with me is an assessment session. It is important that we take some time to dig into your social life, physical health needs, mental health symptoms, 

important relationships in your life, past history of receiving psychiatric or psychological care, as well as your goals for therapy. I conduct a 90-minute assessment for all new clients, however each therapist does this differently. I believe in treating the root cause of your problem, not just the symptoms. Doing a 90-minute-deep dive allows me to do just that.

This 90-minute assessment session also allows you to really decide whether to not therapy is for you and whether or not you even want to work with me. You can ask whatever questions you want and if by the end of the first session, you don't want to come back, all you have to do is say so-no hard feelings on my part. I'd rather link you to the right fit that force you to work with me. 

I try to make my sessions as open as possible. Our work together is a collaboration. I'm not the boss- I'm a guide in your journey of healing. The more honest you are in answering my questions, the better I'm able to create a plan to help you reach your goals. But if you hide valuable information, I probably won't be able to help you.

It's totally normal to feel awkward or even shy during our first session together, but as the weeks go by, you'll probably become more comfortable. Remember, I'm not judging you. I'm asking you questions so we can work together to get to the root of your problems so that you can live a fulfilled life.

So, what questions do you have about the first therapy session?

If you want to hop on the phone to ask me directly and see if I might be a good fit for you, call me on 951-905-3181 or send me an email here. I'd be more than happy to answer your questions. Just know that help is out there. You don't have to struggle through your anxiety alone.