After booking your first session, you might be feeling anxious about attending therapy for the first time. Feeling anxious is a normal part of attending your first session. The anxiety may be because you are unsure of the format of therapy. It might be that you are unsure if therapy will be suitable or you might even feel scared of what you may uncover during the therapy sessions. Whatever your reason, it is perfectly understandable and normal to feel nervous about attending therapy. After all, you are going completely out of your comfort zone and that can feel pretty scary.
As Jack Canfield said, “All the good stuff is outside our comfort zone.” So, even though this may be on the edge, it may be exactly what you need.
With this article, I will attempt to provide you with a general idea of a first therapy session, what to expect, and how to prepare. Though it may not make the process of attending therapy less anxiety-inducing, it will at least help you feel a little more prepared.
What to expect
Our first therapy session will be slightly different from the rest of our sessions. The initial consultation is typically for new clients to meet with me and discuss their current issues and/or concerns and talk about strategies and goals for therapy. The main purpose is for us to get to know each other and decide on how you would like to proceed. I usually begin by introducing myself and saying a little about how I work.
In our first session, I may ask you:
What brought you to therapy?
If you have attended therapy before?
If you are on any current medication
Some questions about your current life stage; current relationships, family, assigned next of kin, and current living situations.
They are similar to questions you may be asked when you are attending a Doctor’s appointment for the first time. The intention is to get a sense of where you currently are and have a vague sense of what form/ length of therapy may be suitable.
In the first session, I will go over the service's policy. This will include the consent to therapy, my cancellation policy, and the confidentiality guidelines. I typically ask that you consent to therapy for 6 sessions and we then have a review. In the review, we will discuss what’s working, what’s not, and if you feel the sessions are meeting your goals for attending.
How to prepare
If you have any worries about attending therapy, feel free to talk to me about it. Some clients have found making a list of their concerns/questions and bringing it along really helpful. You can also send an email beforehand.
Showing up to the first session as you are is completely okay. A lot of times people feel like they can not come in and show how much they are struggling during the first session and often cancel or attempt to cancel till they are feeling better. Unlike any other appointments, your emotions are especially welcomed. So, if you have been having a difficult couple of weeks/ months/ years bring it in with you.
Key take-home messages:
It is normal to be anxious.
The first session is for us to get to know each other.
If you have any questions/concerns, make a list and bring it with you.
Show up as you are.
Looking forward to meeting you.
Dr. Abiola Muhammed-Ogunfowora.