FAQs: What to expect in a 1st session
Going to therapy, especially for the first time, can be a daunting and nerve wracking experience. It can be hard to know what to expect, how things work or what is expected of you. This blog post is here to help you navigate this experience. In my practice 1st sessions are longer (90 minutes) with no additional charge. The reason we have extra time is to make sure we can cover all the things you need to know, as well as to give your therapist a chance to understand what is bringing you to therapy.
One of the things that will be made clear to you in this session are what might be called 'therapeutic boundaries'. As your therapist, I will make it clear to you how confidentiality works, including the rare times it might need to be broken, how payment works, what to do if you think something isn't working and how a typical session might work.
2) Getting to Know One Another
One of the scariest parts of starting with a new therapist can be not knowing the person you are talking to. This session is a good chance to get to know one another. I might ask you a lot of questions about your background or your history, to try and build a mental picture of what your life has been like and how you think. You can also ask questions on me if you want to!
3) Setting Goals or Deciding a Focus
We might use this first session to set goals or decide where our work might focus. This could include specific ways of working (eg. CBT) or goals around what you want from therapy. We might decide things like how frequently and when we plan to meet. This part can be important to make sure you are getting what you want from therapy.
4) Deciding if We're a Good Match
One of the most important parts of therapy is feeling able to trust your therapist. Similarly, I have to be able to decide if I am able to help you with the things you might want to talk about. The first meeting is a good chance for you to try and figure out if I am the right therapist for you. If there are specific things you feel you need from a therapist, you are welcome to let me know. If I feel I would be unable to help you (this is rare) I will tell you, and try to help you access appropriate support from somewhere else.
5) Deciding if You Want to Continue
At the end of the first session you have a choice. You can either decide you do/do not want to carry on there and then, or go away and think about it. I feel that choosing a therapist is an important decision, and that you should be able to make it without being pressured; if you want to think about it this is fine, and I am happy for you to have a week from our first meeting to decide this. At the end of a week, your time slot might be offered to someone else, but you are always welcome to come back at a later date.
I hope this blog post helps you understand a little about what to expect from a first session in therapy; as always if you have any questions you are welcome to contact me and I will respond at the first opportunity.