The First Session
Chances are You’ve heard this statement, “You should go to therapy, it’ll help.” There is likely to be no follow-up to inform you of what to expect from therapy. Most people have preconceptions about what they believe the therapy process to be based on what they’ve seen on television or what they’ve heard from others who have gone to therapy. Because of this, I find it helpful to explain to my clients what they should expect when we speak on the initial phone call.
Here are a few insights about the first session:
You are meeting a stranger. The therapist will do his or her best to create an inviting environment and welcome you to the space. Simply put, the first session is a “getting to know you”. It’s when the therapist interviews you to get insight about your mental health history, goals, and establish boundaries or share expectations. The first session is also when the client interviews the therapist and learns about their therapy style, shares their expectations, and airs any concerns. This session is about gathering information and beginning to develop a rapport.
The first session can be the most daunting because you are meeting a new person and telling them your story. The difference here is the therapy room is a safe space and the therapist holds an objective perspective. The session can be scheduled anywhere from 45 minutes to 90 minutes depending on how much information may need to be gathered or reviewed from the intake assessment. There will be questions from both parties. I prefer to use this session to build rapport by having a conversation. You can share as much or as little as you like about your history. Of course there may be some anxiety or nervousness from meeting a new person and engaging in this process. There may also be feelings of hopefulness and excitement. All of these feelings are valid and give you insight about this therapy experience.