Last week we explored how one might find a therapist when they felt they could use a helping hand on their wellness journey. On today’s Wellness Wednesday, we will take a look at the next step and prepare for your first session.
It’s completely normal to feel unsure and nervous about the first therapy appointment. You may feel unsure of how much you should prepare, what to share, and how to appropriately respond to questions. A little insight into the process can really help alleviate some of these worries, so here’s the lay of the land.
No matter what style/orientation your therapist occupies, the first session is really a “get to know you” session. Your therapist will take the lead in the first session and start with reviewing all appropriate confidentiality and policy forms. Following the completion of these forms you will be asked about the reason /main issue that brought you to therapy, your goals, important supports/relationships in your life (e.g. friends or family) and your history with your current concerns and the specific symptoms you are experiencing as a result.
You will also likely be asked about your previous experience with therapy or other health care providers and if you have ever had thoughts or actions of self harm or suicide. It’s important to be honest on that last question. While you will have just been told about how your confidentiality will be protected unless there is a risk to yourself or others, this relates to future risk and is designed to support you moving forward. The only real exception to this is when a child or elderly individual has been harmed, as therapists have an overriding requirement to act in the interest of vulnerable populations.
There is no perfect amount of detail that you need to provide, but essentially it is a time for your therapist to gather information so that they can get a sense of who you are, start to fit together the pieces in the puzzle and collaboratively create a plan and direction that works for you. You can discuss as in depth as you would like, but try to avoid sticking to one word answers to avoid you therapist forming an inaccurate impression of your needs.
If you have ever had a psychoeducational or mental health assessment conducted you should bring it in, even if it is several years old or does not accurately portray your current needs. These assessments may help your clinician to collect more information that will best assist them in understanding your strengths, weaknesses or, at the very least, better understand your journey.
Just remember, its ok to feel nervous.
Jessica is a member of the clinical wellness and learning support team at FLEX Psychology. Jessica started Wellness Wednesday out of a desire to provide further opportunities for her clients to extend their wellness journey to all avenues of their life. You can learn more about Jessica by clicking here or by learning more about her and the clinical team at FLEX Psychology by clicking here.