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  • Writer's pictureDr. Edden Agonafer, PsyD

What should I expect for my first appointment with a therapist?

Updated: Jun 20, 2022

If you haven't previously done so, your therapist may ask you to arrive a bit early for your first session to complete the paperwork.

Do not be concerned that you will be at a loss for what to do once the session begins. It's natural to experience some anxiety during the first few sessions. Therapists are adept at setting the tone and initiating conversations. They have been trained to guide each session effectively in order to assist you in achieving your goals.

Face to face with you, or through your video platform, your therapist may begin by recognizing the courage it takes to start this journey. They will discuss about confidentiality, ask you to explain in details your reason for seeking support, discuss about your goals, and review their procedure (e.g., where to seek emergency support, how to make payments, and how to schedule or cancel an appointments).

Consultation with a therapist

The therapist may next inquire, "How did you get here today?" or "What prompted you to come in now as opposed to a month or a year ago?" It is beneficial to identify your concern, even if you are unsure of why you have it or how to resolve it. For instance, you may feel stressed, anxious, frustrated, or sad without understanding why or how to stop feeling that way. Some things are difficult to talk about at the beginning of therapy; if you are not ready to discuss something in general or in detail, please let your therapist know. It is acceptable for you to state that you are not prepared to discuss something at the moment. They will approach the topic in the way you feel comfortable or at your pace. As you develop safety and trust in the process, you may feel more comfortable sharing information that first made you uncomfortable.

Additionally, your therapist will inquire about your and your family's mental and medical history such as depression, anxiety, trauma, diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid-related issues, etc. in order to provide comprehensive and holistic care. Additionally, you will have an opportunity to examine how your symptoms and challenges affect your daily life. Your therapist will inquire about any changes in your sleeping patterns, appetite, or other behaviors. A therapist will also want to know about your social support system, which includes your family, friends, teammates, coworkers, church, or social network community.

It is good to keep in mind that the assessment process is ongoing and doesn't stop at the initial intake appointment. Your therapist will continue to assess and evaluate your progress throughout therapy treatment.

At the conclusion of your initial or intake appointment, the therapist may also provide other recommendations. If you're depressed, for instance, the therapist may recommend that you consult a physician to rule out any underlying medical disorders, such as thyroid dysfunction. If you suffer from chronic pain, you may require physical therapy, medication, and assistance with insomnia, in addition to psychotherapy.

After your therapist has gathered all pertinent information, the two of you will collaborate to develop a therapy treatment plan or goals you want to achieve. This collaborative goal-setting is critical since both of you must be committed to reaching your objectives. Your therapist may write the goals down and read them back to you so that you and your therapist are both clear on what you will be working on. Certain therapists will even draft a treatment contract outlining the aim of treatment, its anticipated duration, and objectives, as well as the individual's and therapist's respective responsibilities.

By the end of the first few sessions, you should have a new perspective on your situation, a strategy, or perhaps a renewed sense of hope.

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