How to Get Ready for Your First Therapy Session

Your very first time going to see a therapist can make you very nervous, despite the fact that many people in the United States see therapists and counselors on a weekly basis. There are many common issues that may be addressed in therapy, from social anxiety to navigating major life transitions (such as a divorce or a cross-country move). Therapists have many different skills, and many have different specializations or a specific treatment philosophy. This means that, whatever you’re looking to work out, there’s a therapist out there who is right for you.

Let’s say that you’ve already taken the time to find a counselor or psychotherapist who looks like the right fit for you, perhaps by visiting a site like withtherapy.com. You’re feeling nervous about the first session, though, and are not so sure how to prepare for this initial visit. The truth is that week by week, you’ll come to feel more and more comfortable with your therapist. Soon enough, seeing whomever you’ve chosen on a weekly basis will feel as natural as brushing your teeth in the morning. For now, though, you’re experiencing unease. If this is the case, there are steps to take that will put your mind at ease. Let’s take a look at a few steps you can take to feel better about your first time in therapy.

Read about your therapist’s treatment philosophy one more time

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You probably did some research into your chosen clinician’s treatment philosophy and specializations already, but it never hurts to take another look at their website or online presence. If you’re looking for a family therapist who understands parenting adolescents, for example, then reading about how your therapist addresses these specific issues with compassion and care will almost certainly make you feel better about seeing that person at their office. This is another chance to make sure that this person is the right fit for your specific needs as well.

Take a trip to the office to be sure you know the route

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If you’re not sure about how to get to their office and dread the possibility of being late, consider taking a drive or a train ride to the office once before your first session. Once you’ve navigated the route once, you’ll have more confidence about navigating it again. If your perfectionism has you worried about perceived misdeeds like lateness, this is a great tactic for calming the pre-therapy nerves.

Make a list of behaviors or issues you’d like to discuss

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Are you anxious about forgetting why you’re there in the first place once you get there? There’s an easy fix for this, which happens to be one of the common issues people often cite as causing anxiety before an important meeting. Simply make a list of things you’d like to discuss, either in your phone old-school on a piece of paper. Armed with your list of behaviors and challenges you want to explore, you won’t be able to forget what you want to chat about, whether that’s self-esteem, perfectionism, or a plethora of other challenges that many, many people face.

Going to a therapist is a great idea, but going for the first time can make anyone get a case of butterflies. Thankfully, there are plenty of easy tactics that you can use to put yourself more at ease. Reread your therapist’s website, take a trip to the office ahead of time, and make a list of all the things you want to bring up during the session. While you’re at it—don’t forget to congratulate yourself for taking the first step of finding a therapist at all. Engaging in therapy is courageous, and you deserve plenty of credit for even going once, let along on a weekly basis.