A lot of people may feel that therapy is only for people who have experienced a trauma or have severe depression or anxiety attacks.
The truth is that therapy is a valuable tool that anyone can use to learn better strategies and techniques for coping with their surroundings or even their own minds. People go to therapy to work on their own minds and help themselves to become better people. People also go to therapy to work on relationship issues, self-esteem, and/or coping with chronic conditions — such as illnesses. Therapy has a number of valuable contexts and there is no right or wrong reason to seek it.
So, if you are thinking about starting therapy but you’re feeling nervous or unsure about how to go about preparing for it, we have a few tips that can help you get started.
Finding a Therapist
The process of finding a therapist can be incredibly intimidating — especially if you have never been to a therapist before. This is why it is important to ensure that you have a good understanding of what you want from your therapy sessions as well as what you are looking for in a therapist.
Do Your Research
Therapy is an incredibly useful tool for helping us to cope with what is going on around us as well as any past traumas we may have. But, in order to ensure that you are going to have successful sessions, you need to ensure that you are working with the right therapist for you. We are all different and we may not feel comfortable sharing information with someone that we feel doesn’t understand us. Because of this, it is important that you do your research and look for a therapist who you will feel comfortable talking with.
And remember, there is nothing wrong with meeting with a therapist and realizing that they are not the right fit for you. You want to ensure that you feel comfortable with your therapist or your sessions are not going to be very successful.
Know Your “Why”
The first thing to note is that you do not need to experience a crisis to go to therapy. You could simply be seeking therapy for personal growth or you could be looking for support and coping strategies for handling a mental health condition. There really are so many different reasons that you could be scheduling your first therapy session.
What reason that is is not necessarily important, what is important is that you know what that reason is. This will help you to be more sure of what you want to focus on in your sessions.
Preparing for Your First Session
Alright, so you’ve found a therapist and you’re ready to schedule your first session. But wait. What are you supposed to talk about? How are you supposed to prepare for meeting your therapist for the first time?
While there is no right or wrong answer to preparing for your first therapy session, we have gathered some tips here that can help to lessen some of the anxiety that you may be feeling.
Write a List of Topics
The first tip we have is to write out a list of topics that you want to discuss with your therapist. This can help you to stay focused and not forget anything. This is especially helpful if you are feeling nervous about your session.
This list could include any current challenges you are facing, recent changes in your life, coping strategies you have tried, anything that your friends or family have noticed, and information about you.
Tell a Loved One
You should not feel obligated to share that you are going to therapy, it is up to you. That being said, it can be beneficial to have someone to talk to about your sessions. This can help you get the most out of your therapy appointments and it can also be helpful for you to know that you have a solid support system that is willing to help you process what you’ve learned from your sessions.
Ask the Practical Questions
You’ll want to get the practical questions — like how long will each session be, how frequently you’d be meeting, and any of the billing information that you are wondering about— out of the way first so that you can focus on your personal goals more effectively during your later sessions.
If you have already talked about these things with a front desk at your therapist’s office then you may not need to ask these questions, but do keep in mind that it may be beneficial still to touch base before getting into your more session-specific goals.
Be Open and Engaged
Your therapist is there to help you better yourself. They are not going to be able to do that if you are not open and honest with them about what is going on in your life. Your therapist is not there to judge you.
Ensure that you are going into your session with an intention to be engaged, truthful, and ready to implement the valuable techniques that you are learning. This will help you get the most out of your sessions.
Make a Buffer Zone
Especially for your first session, it can be extremely difficult to transition from a therapy session back to your normal work or other activities. Because of this, it can be a great idea to schedule some extra time after your session to re-adjust and process what you’ve talked about with your therapist.
It can also be a good idea to take some time before your appointment to gather your thoughts and think about what you want to discuss with your therapist for that session. This can help to get you better in the mindset for your session as well.
Remember, There Is No “Quick Fix”
Your first session is likely going to be a lot of housekeeping and you’re likely not going to get any life-altering revelations in the first 30 minutes of talking to a therapist. There will be ups and downs in your sessions — just like in your life — and in general, you will need to put in a lot of work in order to improve.
Your first session is likely going to feel a bit awkward and you may feel unsure about what to say to your therapist during your first session. This is completely normal and there is nothing wrong with it. That being said, having a list of topics to talk about (as mentioned above) can help to lessen some of this confusion and put your nerves at ease.
Ask Your Therapist Questions
Your therapist is there to help you. You can (and should) ask them questions about techniques they are helping you learn, as well as what progress might look like for you. You’re not going to magically learn everything that they have to offer in one session and progress in coping with depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions can be difficult to see at times — especially if you do not know what to look for.
Even if you are simply going to therapy for personal growth as well it can be difficult to notice changes if they are coming more slowly. This is okay and your therapist can help you to determine realistic goals and behaviors to look out for so you can best see the progress you are making.
So, if you are ready to schedule your first session, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Love Heal Grow. We hope that these tips will help you to feel more comfortable and confident going into your first session and we look forward to hearing from you and working with you to achieve your goals.