POV: You’re lying on your bed thinking of the reasons to cancel or reschedule your therapy appointment.
After contemplating for weeks or months or years, you finally got the courage to book a therapy session, but now, attending your very first session seems daunting and nerve-wracking. You can't help but wonder all the WHAT IFS…..
What if the therapist judges me for who I am?
What if I fail to convey my emotions?
What if I feel uncomfortable during the session?
What if the therapist asks about my past and childhood?
What if therapy makes me feel worse than I feel at the moment?
No matter how much you try to find answers to these questions, you just don’t feel READY yet to attend your first therapy session. You feel something or the other is ought to go wrong.
Don’t worry! We have got you covered.
Opening up about what is making you feel upset, discussing your lowest moments along with your unprocessed feelings, and making a commitment to bring better changes into your life is not an easy task. So, to feel anxious before starting the process is completely NORMAL!
Preparing for your first therapy session can help you alleviate some of the uncertainty you may be feeling. Taking some time to think about what you hope to achieve from therapy and what questions you may have for your therapist can be helpful.
It's also important to remember that finding the right therapist can be a process, and finding someone who is a good fit for you may take some time.
In this article, we'll discuss some strategies for preparing for your first therapy session, including how to find the right therapist, what to expect during your session, and how to set goals for your therapy. Remember, seeking help for your mental health is a courageous step, and with the right preparation and support, you can begin your journey toward healing and well-being.
Choosing the Right Therapist
Before finding how to choose the right therapist, it is also important to know what to expect from therapy. It is a misconception that therapy is going to vanish your pain or magically resolve your problems. Therapy is a process to improve your mental health. It doesn’t serve instant gratification or give you any “quick fix.” It gives you a new perspective and shows you how to cope with your emotions in a more healthy way.
Now let’s get back to finding the right therapist for you!
Choosing the right therapist can be a challenging and overwhelming process. It's crucial to find someone who you feel comfortable with and who understands your unique needs and concerns.
Look for these things before you pick a therapist:
1. Budget Friendly: Before considering your options, figure out how much your pocket allows. You don’t want to cure yourself by getting yourself into a financial crisis.
The good thing is there are a lot of options that would fit your needs as well as your budget. Online therapy could be one such option. You can also find free therapy platforms online.
2. Culturally Competent: Many people find it easier to open up to a therapist that might have had a similar experience or know about experiences from your particular community.
For example, as a person of color, you might be more comfortable with a therapist from the same community or who openly welcomes people of color.
The crucial part of seeking a therapist is to be completely comfortable with them and to feel you are in a safe, non-judgmental space. Have an open mind before making your decision.
3. Question to Ask: Before you start the process, you can ask this list of questions to the therapist in the first session.
What is your approach to therapy? What type of therapy is best suited for my case?
What is your experience working with individuals who have similar concerns to mine?
What is your policy on confidentiality and privacy?
Do you involve family or other people in my treatment if necessary?
How do you handle emergencies or crises outside of the regular session?
How do you evaluate progress in therapy and determine when the treatment is complete?
Don't be afraid to speak up and advocate for your needs in therapy. If something isn't working, don't hesitate to bring it up with your therapist and discuss alternative approaches. Remember that therapy is a collaborative process, and finding the right therapist who you feel comfortable with and who understands your unique needs is key to a successful and fulfilling experience.
What to Expect in Your First Session
Going to your first therapy session can be an intimidating experience, especially if you're not sure what to expect. However, understanding the basics of what typically happens in a first therapy session can help reduce some of your worries and make the experience more comfortable.
One of the first things you can expect in your first session is that your therapist will probably ask you a series of questions to get to know you better.
Your reasons for seeking therapy
Your past experiences with mental health
Your personal background.
It's important to remember that your therapist is not there to judge you, but rather to help you better understand your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Another thing you can expect in your first therapy session is that your therapist will work with you to set goals for your therapy. These goals will help guide the direction of your therapy and ensure that you and your therapist are on the same page about what you hope to achieve. Setting goals can also help you stay motivated and focused throughout the therapeutic process.
It's important to keep in mind that the therapeutic relationship is a collaborative one, and your therapist will work with you to create a safe and comfortable space for you to explore your thoughts and emotions. You can expect your therapist to be supportive, empathetic, and non-judgmental, and to provide you with tools and strategies to manage your mental health.
By understanding what to expect in your first session, you can take control of the process and work towards a happier, healthier you. Remember to be patient and kind to yourself, and to trust the process.
What to Bring to Your First Session
Now that you know what to expect, let’s see what you should be having during your first session.
A notebook and pen: Taking notes during your therapy session can be incredibly helpful. You may want to jot down things your therapist says, goals you'd like to work on, or any other thoughts or feelings that come up during your session.
A list of questions: It's important to remember that therapy is a two-way street, and you should feel comfortable asking your therapist any questions you may have. Bringing a list of questions can help ensure that you don't forget anything important.
A list of medications and supplements: If you're currently taking any medications or supplements, it's important to let your therapist know. This information can help them better understand your overall health and well-being.
Comfortable clothing: Depending on the type of therapy you'll be receiving, you may want to wear comfortable clothing that allows you to move and breathe freely. For example, if you'll be practicing breathing exercises, you may want to wear loose, comfortable clothing.
Water: If it is an online session, it can be a good idea to keep a water bottle close to you so that you stay hydrated or have the option to drink water if you feel thirsty or have any overwhelming moments during the session.
Handkerchief: Don’t let your phlegm stop you from sharing your heart! When you are sharing your innermost deepest thoughts, it is expected of you to feel a certain way. While the rule of therapy is never to apologize for your emotions, having a hankie by your side can help you to settle yourself to further continue the session.
An open mind: Finally, it's important to approach your first therapy session with an open mind. Therapy can be a transformative experience, but it's important to be open to the process and willing to engage in the work. Remember, your therapist is there to support you, and the more open and honest you can be, the more effective your therapy will be.
How to Make Realistic Goals and Expectations
The therapist is most likely to ask you about your goals or your expectations during or after your first therapy session. It’s better if you are already prepared for your answer.
Ask yourself what brought you to therapy. It could be anything, grieving a loss, going through heartbreak, learning to make better boundaries, changing your unhealthy patterns, etc. You can also have multiple goals for seeking therapy.
1. All the things that are bothering you at present and the priority at which you would like to sort these things. You can figure out the priority by asking yourself, “what is bothering you the most at the moment?”.
2. Your present state and how you want to leave therapy. For example, you struggle to say “no” to people at this moment and you want to leave the therapy assertive and confident, being able to set boundaries without feeling guilty.
Remember to write realistic expectations.
Examples may include
Unrealistic Expectation: Coming to therapy with heartbreak and leaving therapy with an expectation to never feel any kind of emotional pain again.
Realistic Expectation: Coming to therapy with heartbreak and leaving therapy learning healthy coping mechanisms if a situation like this presents itself again.
3. What has worked for you in the past, and what hasn’t. Write how have you coped with similar situations previously and what has been successful for you or what made things even worse.
These insights help your therapist to make a better plan and decide how much time can it take for your treatment. Even if you feel unsure or aren’t able to introspect, your therapist will help you explore the answers. So, you don’t have to stress too much about it.
Taking out Time for Yourself before the Session
It is a good idea to reserve some time for yourself before your very first session. Spare some time to collect your thoughts and sit with your feelings.
Indulge in some light breathing exercises or just simply notice your breaths. This can help you calm down and compose yourself before starting your session.
Remind yourself that therapists are trained to be compassionate and understanding. Even if you aren’t sure how everything would play out, stop overthinking it. This isn’t like a school viva or an intimidating interview. The therapist is there to make you comfortable and help you so you can leave your worries behind.
Your Therapist isn’t the Right Fit for You
It is okay to not like your therapist. The Therapeutic relationship between the patient and the therapist is crucial for excellent treatment. Multiple studies have shown how a good connection between the therapist and the patient can bring incredibly effective results.
Think of it like a college project. You are to work with a particular individual to give a presentation on a topic. The person collaborating with you is efficient in their work, but for some reason, you just don’t seem to have similar methods of going about the process. Even though you both are A graders, you just don’t seem compatible enough with each other. The presentation goes well because of both your capabilities, but it could have been wonderful if you connected with a person who has similar ideas and mindset.
Similarly, in the process of therapy, you have to be able to come to a mutual agreement on the goals and the intervention, also known as the therapeutic alliance.
If you feel that you aren’t able to trust your therapist, you can convey that to your therapist so that you can both work together to find the solution to what seems missing for you.
Sometimes you simply cannot “click” with your therapist. In that case, you should look for another therapist. It is, however, recommended to go through a few sessions first before you make your decision.
Therapy is a personal process, and you should be able to communicate honestly and openly. If you feel hesitant to do so, then the treatment process may not be that effective. You shouldn’t feel guilty for changing the therapist. In most cases, you can simply convey the same to your therapist and they would recommend somebody else to you.
It is okay to have jitters before your first therapy session but knowing what to expect can give you an edge. Your first session is usually about checking the compatibility with your therapist to see if you can connect well with them.
You can do a bit of homework before the session by writing your goals and expectations from the therapy, but even if you don’t, there won’t be any punishment. The therapist is there to guide you with each and everything so you should focus on leaving your worries behind.
The first session at lostalittle starts only at INR 99. You can book your first therapy session at lostalittle here:
Click here to book your first session
See you on the other side of the table!