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 earned his doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Indianapolis in Indianapolis, Indiana. He completed his internship training at the Texas State University Counseling Center and his post-doctoral training at San Diego VA specializing in psychiatric rehabilitation and evidence based interventions for severe mental illness. His theoretical orientation is primarily cognitive-behavioral with third-wave influences. He is skilled in the application of empirically-supported group and individual treatments for anxiety, mood, and psychotic disorders. Dr. Dike has clinical and research interests in: metacognition, meditation, behavioral/functional genomics, biopsychosocial models of psychosis, recovery oriented interventions, neurobiology of psychological change, exposure based treatments for anxiety disorders, and CBT for psychosis. In his free time Dr. Dike enjoys spending time with his children, family and friends, traveling, listening to music, hiking and enjoying nature, discovering great local restaurants, and watching his favorite sports of American and English football.