7 Things to Consider When Starting Therapy
Updated: Jun 4
Maybe this is your first time getting curious about therapy or maybe you've been around the therapy block a few time and are looking to jump back in. Either way, starting therapy can be a nerve wracking experience and it's normal to feel anxious about what to expect. To ease some of those worries, here are 7 things to consider when starting therapy!
1. You're allowed to be picky!
Therapy can be incredibly effective but finding the right therapist can be a hard task. One of the biggest factors that influences how successful therapy can be is what's called the Therapeutic Relationship. This means that whether or not you "vibe" with your therapist is a valid factor to take into consideration. Don't feel obligated to go with the first person you talk to. I do a phone consult with all first time clients prior to booking any sessions to help them get to know me and my counselling style. Asking for a phone consultation prior to booking your first appointment is always a good idea and just know that you might have to go through a few consults to find the right therapist, but it's worth it.
2. Consider clearing some space before and after your first session
If you're new to therapy you might be curious whether you're the type of person to jump right in and be an open book or whether you'll be a bit more reserved and take time to warm up. No matter your personality and comfort level, try blocking out some extra time before and after your session to ground yourself. Try having 10-15 minutes to yourself before and after session by having a snack, going for a walk, cuddling your fur-baby, calling a friend, or even just breathing. This is especially important if you're doing virtual therapy sessions! Therapy can be hard work, and having to jump straight into a work meeting right after a session can be draining.
3. Manage your expectations
You may go into your first session ready to bare all but come out feeling a bit anti-climatic. First sessions are typically a place to set the foundation and tone for future sessions. Your therapist might use the first session to build the relationship, learn more about what brought you to counselling, and touch upon your goals for this process. For example, in a first session your therapist might ask you questions about different parts of your life like friends, family, relationships, your career, strengths, challenges, or day-to-day experiences. It might take a few sessions to get into the juicy details but if it doesn't be sure to communicate to your therapist that the pace they're at going might feel too slow for you.
4. Think About Your "Why" for Therapy.
You don't have to have all the answers, but it helps to take some time to think about why you've decided to start this journey and what you hope to get out of it. Your therapist isn't going to tell you where you need to be, but is someone who can guide you to the place you want to be. Spending some time thinking about your "why" can help kickstart the process. But remember, knowing that you need support is enough for the first session, the nitty gritty details can be worked out with your therapist.
5. You Don't Have to Come Back for a Second Session.
You are not tied to your therapist! You may have wrapped up your 15 minute phone consultation and thought, "I think I've found my perfect therapist!" and then walked out of your first session feeling like it's not a good fit. That can feel incredibly disheartening considering and in those moments...refer to the first consideration in this post. It is okay to be picky!
6. Ask your Therapist as Many Questions as you Need.
Consider prepping some prior to your consultation or first session. Remember, that any question is on the table and there is no such thing as a stupid question. You are assessing whether this therapist is going to be a good fit for you meaning you can ask any and as many questions as you need to make an informed decision. Questions are always encouraged and can help your therapist better understand your needs. It's worth noting that your therapist may decline to answer personal questions that goes beyond what they're willing to share.
7. Practice Patience.
Therapy is a process. If you walk out of your first appointment feeling the same as when you entered don't be worried! As we talked about above, the therapeutic relationship is core to effectiveness and it sometimes takes several sessions to build rapport with your therapist to where you feel comfortable fully sharing your emotions and experiences. Our feelings and experiences are often so embedded in us that our bodies will reject positive changes if they happened overnight. Change takes time, especially if we need to build your capacity, resources, and tools to jump into topics that you're not ready to jump into. Trust the process and trust yourself.
This blog is meant to either introduce you or remind you of what you can expect at the start of therapy. These posts are not a replacement for therapy with a licensed professional and is not meant to be clinical. They are meant for educational and entertainment purposes only.