The first therapy session – what it is like
The first therapy session can be scary for most of us. We don’t know what happens, what the therapist is like, what questions we’ll be asked. What if psychotherapy is not for you? What if you don’t like the therapist, and many other questions like these.
It is common to be anxious before your first therapy session, especially before you meet someone you don’t know, who you will reveal parts of yourself and your life.
The purpose of this article is to answer to some of the most common questions about the first therapy session.
I will write about what happens in the first therapy session and what you can expect to gain after the first meeting.
Of course there are different ways in which psychotherapists manage a first session, and it may be personalized to the needs and individuality of each patient.
A couple of things to know before a first session
Your therapist is there for you and will not judge you or your choices.
Coming to therapy shows you are a strong person, and not weak. It is necessary to have the strength to acknowledge and accept the fact that you need help and get help.
You don’t need to be in crisis or have extremely difficult or mental health problems.
Another important thing to know is that therapy is covered by confidentiality. There are a couple of limitations of confidentiality in Romania I invite you to read about.
My recommendation is that you try to keep your therapy for yourself and share as least as possible. I recommend this because this way you protect your therapy process from unsolicited opinions or advice.
Before coming to therapy it is necessary to make an appointment. You can do this by contacting me using the contact form or send me an email.
Making an appointment for a first therapy session
When you call to make an appointment we will find the day and hour that work for both of us.
The location is under the contact page, and if there are any questions or you need explanations about how to get to the location, please ask.
If you feel more comfortable writing to me, please send me an email and I will reply as soon as possible.
What happens in the first therapy session?
The first session of psychotherapy is dedicated to discussing the difficulties that bring you to therapy. We will talk about the reasons why you wish to benefit from psychotherapy. I also ask if you were in therapy in the past. What you did so far to solve your problem and did not work.
It is also important to talk about how your problem affects you today and what impact it has on your life and relationships.
Another important aspect is to talk about what you want to get from therapy and what are your expectations from it.
We’ll talk about confidentiality, duration of psychotherapy, frequency of sessions and how I can help specifically in your situation.
If you choose to start therapy, we will set a date and time that will be dedicated only to you depending on your needs and choice.
What do I take from the first session of psychotherapy?
After the first session you can form an opinion about the therapist and therapy. If therapist’s style suits you, if you can trust the therapist, if it is worth it to engage in a therapeutic process or not. It is important for the working alliance that you feel comfortable with your therapist.
After the discussions during the first meeting, you should have a clear vision about the therapeutic approach used, about how you can be helped, what is the number of sessions required and what are the main steps of the therapy.
Sometimes therapy can stray from all the planning due to unforeseen elements that can arise and require to be explored or resolved. It is normal for this to happen. Many people come to therapy for a specific problem and discover that they can work on solving other two. Or that the real reason that brought them in therapy is actually different from the reason they were aware of.
How to make the most out of your therapy
1. Ask questions about anything you need to know
Ask how, why, what, who, where? Ask about credentials, skills, experience, so that you make the best choice regarding your psychotherapist.
You can check the data about the therapist you want to choose, on the official website of the Romanian Board of Psychologists, and the Unique Record of Psychologists – RUP part I. This is where you find important data about your therapist. For example if the therapist is accredited (or recognized by the Romanian Board of Psychologists) or has suspended practice.
2. It is good to have an idea of what you want to talk about in therapy and what you wish to get from it
You can set some goals by yourself before you get to therapy. In your sessions you can talk about anything without censoring yourself. The space between therapist and patient is the space where all the problems are discussed. The purpose is to bring progress and healing.
3. Be aware that you’re the most important person in the therapeutic process. The therapist helps you get where you want
Try as much as you can to be yourself in the relationship with the therapist. It’s probably the safest place in the world to do this and you’re safe to explore parts of who you are.
4. Keep therapy process for yourself
As I said above, I recommend that your work in therapy is something you keep away from unauthorized and unsolicited advice that can trigger doubt or uncertainty.
5. Be open to change and do your homework
Psychotherapy is by definition a process that brings change. Changes are expected to put you in discomfort, but this is not a bad thing. Change means you feel a bit of discomfort when you break the patterns that trigger and maintain your problem/s.
6. Use the time between sessions to apply what you learn in therapy
The time between therapy sessions is extremely valuable. You can keep a journal to write about events, difficulties or successes that you experience in the time between sessions. Writing is an excellent way to see where therapy is headed, whether or not there is progress. You can see what things you want to change and what can be improved.
7. Talk to your therapist about anything that bothers you
Communicate to your therapist if there is anything that bothers you. Don’t try to be “the good patient” because the goal is not to make the therapist to like you or be friends. The therapeutic relationship can help you improve your relationships outside of therapy room.
8. Give yourself time to reflect on what you work in therapy
You can write in your journal. It is a great way to give your thoughts some freedom. Actively involve in your own healing and trust the process.
When therapy ends
Usually people who come to therapy stay in therapy for 6 to 12 months, sometimes longer. Even if the initial duration was set to a specific number of sessions it is important to know that this duration can change. Also, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all the problems will be solved in the time initially set.
Everything in this world has a beginning and an ending. Therapy is not an exception. You can’t stay in therapy forever. It is your choice when and how to end therapy, when you want or feel that the objectives set were achieved or not. The therapist will not insist for you to stay in therapy, but it is good if he/she tells you if the process is not ended, what else is still necessary to work on.
Don’t be afraid of the ending, you can come back when you feel you need to, because it’s not the end of the relationship you have with the psychotherapist.
Each therapist wants his patients to leave stronger and clearer from therapy, back into their lives, and each time with the feeling that they found the solutions to their problems.
Last update – October 2018