June 16, 2022
If you’ve never been to a therapist before, you might be curious about what to expect during your first session. Here’s a brief overview of what you can expect, either in virtual therapy or in person.
How to Choose a Therapist
A therapist is a lot like any other health specialist–you’ll want to find one that specifically treats the issues you’re experiencing and accepts your insurance. But more than that, a therapist is somebody with whom you will share your deepest feelings. It’s vital that you feel comfortable and safe.
If you’re not feeling comfortable with a therapist, trust your gut and try someone else.
Before Your First Appointment
Take some time to think about what you want to get out of therapy before your first session. That way, you can be sure that you and your therapist are on the same page from the start.
Your First Session
Your therapist will ask you a lot of questions in order to learn about you and your needs. Though each therapist is different, there are a few common questions that you can expect to answer.
“What are your symptoms?”
This question is meant to help your therapist understand what you’re experiencing and how it’s impacting your life.
“What are your goals for therapy?”
This question helps your therapist understand what you hope to achieve through therapy. It’s okay if you don’t know exactly what
“How has this problem affected your life?”
Your therapist will want to know how your mental health issue has impacted different areas of your life, such as work, school, and relationships.
“What is your personal history with mental health treatment?”
Your therapist will want to know if you’ve sought mental health treatment in the past and how it went. This will help them understand what has and hasn’t worked for you in the past.
“Do you have any close relatives who have experienced mental health treatment or issues?”
Your therapist might ask about your family history in order to get a better understanding of your mental health issue and how it might be affecting you.
Setting Plans Going Forward
Your therapist will likely want to set some goals with you for future sessions. This might involve discussing what topics you want to focus on or what tools you want to learn in order to manage your mental health issue.
You and your therapist will also likely discuss how often you’ll meet and for how long. This is known as your “treatment plan.”
Types of Therapy
There are many different types of therapy, and the type that’s right for you will depend on your needs. Some common types of therapy include:
Cognitive behavioral therapy: This type of therapy focuses on helping you identify and change negative thinking patterns and behaviors.
Exposure therapy: This type of therapy helps you face your fears in order to manage them better.
Interpersonal therapy: This type of therapy helps you improve your communication and relationship skills.
Psychodynamic therapy: This type of therapy explores the connection between your past experiences and current mental health issues.
Lightfully Behavioral Health uses a Process-based therapy, or PBT, as a framework for addressing mental health. Instead of focusing on just reducing symptoms, PBT homes in on the underlying mental and emotional processes at the heart of many health challenges.
What To Ask Your Therapist
If you’re unsure about whether therapy is right for you or want to learn more about what to expect, don’t hesitate to ask your therapist. Some questions you might want to ask include:
“What type of therapy do you specialize in?”
“What are your thoughts on medication?”
“How will I know if therapy is working?”
What if My Therapy is Virtual?
If you’re attending virtual therapy, there are a few things you can do to make sure that your experience is positive.
Create a comfortable and private space: Find a place in your home where you feel comfortable talking openly and won’t be interrupted.
Make sure you have a good internet connection: A strong and stable internet connection is key to a good virtual therapy experience.
Test your audio and video: Before your virtual therapy session, make sure that your audio and video are working well. This will help ensure that you and your therapist can hear and see each other clearly.
The First Step is Always the Hardest
Therapy can be a great way to address mental health issues, learn more about yourself, and set goals for your future. By knowing what to expect before your first session, you can feel more prepared and comfortable going into it.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Lightfully Mental Health. We’re here to support you on your mental health journey.
If you or someone you love is struggling and need help, find out if Lightfully is a good fit for you.