I Found a Therapist! Now What?
Congratulations on taking this important step for your mental health and wellness! Now that you’ve found a therapist, you might be wondering, “What happens now?” Today we’re here to give you a brief overview of what to expect for your first therapy session, as well as some of the things you may want to think about ahead of time.
Your First Therapy Session(s)
Every mental health professional practices therapy in their own way, but the first few sessions are usually dedicated to getting to know you and the reasons that you’re coming to therapy.
Your therapist may ask you about your life history, family of origin, relationships and other areas of your life, as well what experiences you have had with your gender identity and sexual orientation. They’ll also likely ask questions about any mental health symptoms you have been experiencing, and how they have affected your quality of life.
This is a great opportunity to share in a safe, supportive space. If you feel hesitant to share, it’s absolutely ok to express that you are nervous or uncomfortable. Your therapist is there to support you throughout your mental health journey, so being honest with them is key. These first few sessions will help establish the relationship you have with your therapist. In addition to them learning about you, you’ll learn about their professional experience and get a feel for their style.
While it may feel a bit awkward to share so much with someone you just met, feeling comfortable and safe enough to open up is an essential part of therapist-patient interactions. The first few sessions will give you insight into your level of comfort with your therapist and their specific style. Remember, building trust takes time and opening up in therapy is a process, so go at your own pace.
Your Treatment Goals
One area that your new therapist might address is the goals that you have for treatment. For some people, goals can involve symptom management, such as learning to cope with anxiety. For others, goals can be oriented toward life events, such as finding and sustaining a healthy relationship. If you aren’t sure what your treatment goals are, it can be a good idea to take some time to reflect on what you are seeking from your mental health journey. Having a specific goal can help inform the route you and your therapist take together.
Keep in mind that your goals may evolve and change as you go through the therapeutic process and begin working on different aspects of your life. As time goes on, your therapist might also have additional suggestions about areas that you may want to focus on.
Therapy is an ongoing process with many new discoveries unfolding along the way. The most important part is to get started, and just by reading this article you’ve taken an important step in beginning your mental health journey.