Typically finding the right therapist can take some work. Once you have found a psychotherapist and are ready begin, butterflies often begin to set in. Questions arise. Is this something you really want to do? Are you really ready to open up your life up to someone you don’t even know? What will they think of you? What if therapy doesn’t help? One common thought on the first day of therapy is “things aren’t all that bad with me recently, maybe I do not need this.” Another common thought is “I am so glad to be able to start sorting through the complexities of my life.”
These are all common reactions and questions. It is a good time to take a deep breath and relax as you prepare yourself for your first time in psychotherapy. It is common to get to the waiting room on that first day, wondering to yourself, if anyone else in the waiting room recognizes you. You hope not. Then the door opens and your therapist invites you inside. He or she then gently closes the door behind you and invites you to sit down, and makes sure you are as comfortable as possible.
You should be given the opportunity to clarify any questions you may have. You may be quiet and reserved, answering only those questions you are asked or you may just start talking. Either way is fine, your therapist is fully prepared to let you settled in with your preferred style that is comfortable to you.
The goal for most first sessions is to explain why you have come to therapy and what some of your goals are. Your therapist may take notes. These notes serve as reminders to the therapist of your thoughts and reactions to certain things.
Although many people do not recognize it, that first session serves an important therapeutic end to establish your comfort level, to get you involved, and to begin to build a level of trust between you and your therapist.
Depending on the direction of the type of therapy used by your therapist, several options may occur. Most therapists will ask you about yourself. This method involves the therapist in shaping a question that asks you to tell a story about an event or person in your life. Many clients may be hesitant to say too much, but a therapist will soon put your mind at ease and encourage you to let the words flow. What your therapist is looking for are:
- Self-descriptions of your experiences
- Opportunities for additional insight on your part
- Clarification of issues
The steps described above are very general in nature, but do point out that the work you do in therapy is a process. While it may not always be the most comfortable of directions, it can be an exciting process of self-discovery. As you and your therapist dig deeper there will be discoveries made about how and why you react in certain ways. Different opportunities of reacting and behaving are explored.
For however long it takes you to achieve your goals, you and your therapist will continue to work on your personal evolution.