It can be intimidating to try something new, and therapy is no different. I’ve heard, ‘how do I talk to a therapist for the first time?’ There are three things that I tell people to remember about their first therapy session: It’s normal and okay to be nervous. Do your best to be honest. And feel free to ask your therapist questions.
It’s normal and ok to be nervous
If you’re nervous about your first therapy session, you’re not alone. Many people experience anxiety and nervousness at the thought of talking to someone, especially when related to their mental health and wellness. Not only is the process completely new, if you have had other experiences in therapy that weren’t positive, it makes sense to feel hesitation.
As I mentioned, it’s important to be honest in your session, but it’s also ok to let your therapist know if you don’t feel comfortable answering questions or talking about a specific topic. We may unknowingly ask a question that is sensitive and it’s ok to say, ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I don’t want to answer that question right now.’ Therapists are there to listen, and not to judge.
It’s ok to ask questions
I encourage my patients to ask me any questions they might have to help them feel more comfortable continuing with therapy. Those can be questions about my experience, or their treatment plan.
What to expect in your first therapy session
The first visit you have will likely consist of your therapist asking a lot of questions to get to know you and what brings you in. Typical questions therapists ask in the first session can include:
- If you’re feeling anxious, when does it happen the most?
- How do you feel your symptoms impact your life?
- Tell me a bit about your background and family life.
Additionally, you may be encouraged to share your reasons for seeking therapy at this time. These questions help therapists understand what you’ve been struggling with and help identify what your goals may be in therapy.
After your first therapy session
As your first session wraps up, you should have a general idea of a treatment plan to help you address your objectives for therapy; such as how often you’ll meet and if applicable, a referral for medications.
Doctor On Demand offers easy access to virtual counseling
At Doctor On Demand by Included Health, we have licensed therapists and psychiatrists who specialize in anxiety, depression, grief and loss, and more. You may benefit from talking to someone outside of your close family and friends. We’re here when you’re ready, and available 24/7, everyday of the year, including holidays.
About the author
Dr. Craig Dike completed his doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Indianapolis, internship at Texas State University, and post-doctoral fellowship at UC San Diego/VA, where he specialized in psychiatric rehabilitation. Dr. Dike has additional specialty training in treating panic disorders, PTSD, phobias, and OCD. He enjoys working with primary care physicians helping patients engage in healthier behaviors by treating insomnia, reducing chronic pain, smoking cessation, and utilizing biofeedback. He continues to teach, provide workshops and lectures, as well as train residents in strong evidence based treatments. Whenever possible, he participates in clinical research that addresses a wide range of areas within the field of therapy and evidence-based treatments. Based in Texas, he enjoys spending time with family and friends over a craft beer and brisket, and enthusiastically supporting his favorite soccer team Tottenham Hotspur.