Going to your first counseling or therapy session can cause a lot of anxiety or nervousness, especially if you’ve never seeked out therapy before. However, there are some ways you can prepare for your first therapy session that can eliminate some of this anxiety.
1. Start By Setting Goals
Before talking with a counselor, you should want some specific goals outlined. While these goals can always be changed throughout your therapy sessions, ask yourself exactly why you’re seeking counseling in the first place. Are you having relationship problems, dealing with a specific habit, have bipolar disorder, etc. You can also have goals like being happier or learning better ways to deal with stress.
2. However, Have Realistic Expectations
It’s important to realize that you can’t just walk into a therapy office and sit down with your therapist for an hour and expect everything to be cured. Unlike lots of physical procedures, therapy for your mental health may not have a specific timeline. It may take a few sessions to reach your goals. Conversely, however, it may take several years before your goals are reached.
3. Schedule Your First Session When It’s Convenient
Especially if you’ve never been in a therapy office, it’s likely you won’t know how to act after your first session. Therefore, you should give yourself plenty of time after a therapy session. While some people may feel perfectly okay going to therapy in the morning then going to work in the afternoon, other people may benefit from hours of reflection afterwards. When possible, schedule your first session when you have nothing else going on during the day. Therefore, if you do need time to yourself, you’ll have it. Some people may even find they have motivation after therapy and want to rekindle an old hobby.
4. Be Open and Honest
In many ways, the first therapy session is the chance for you to get to know your therapist and vice versa. While it can sound daunting, do your best to be open and honest about your feelings. Doing so can help you get the most out of your subsequent therapy sessions. However, don’t feel like you have to completely open yourself up. Try to get outside of your comfort zone while understanding that during the first therapy session, you’re still taking baby steps.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
You shouldn’t be afraid to ask your therapist any questions. These questions may deal with how to overcome your issues or reach specific goals. However, also don’t be afraid to ask your therapist about more practical issues like how billing or insurance works. The right counselor will be able to answer any questions you have directly or tell you when they don’t have the answers. Your counselor should also make you feel comfortable and be non-judgemental. These two key traits are important for counseling, something our friends at the Lotus Wellness Center agree with.