The CDC reports that the number of people in the U.S. seeking mental health therapy is growing. For many, it’s a first-time experience with the therapist. Most of these people are usually nervous when venturing into this new experience.
Another report by the Mental Health Million Project suggests that almost half of all Americans don’t seek professional mental health help. Many of them are afraid to do so. That’s because they’re scared or nervous as to what to expect from their therapy sessions, especially the first one.
When you first step into a therapist’s office, it can be an overwhelming experience. Everything from the decor to the smell and sounds of the space is unfamiliar and difficult to navigate. However, knowing what to expect can help you ease into this new environment.
Here are a few things you can expect from your first therapy session:
It’s normal to feel nervous about your first therapy session. Don’t worry. Your therapist will never think anything bad about you, what you say, or even what they find out about you. It’s just going to be hard for you at first, but you’ll get used to it as time goes on and things become more comfortable between you and your therapist.
The First Session Alone Won’t Do
You probably won’t solve all of your problems in the first session. The therapist will be getting to know you, and it might take some time for you to open up about what is going on in your life. Don’t worry if you don’t feel like talking about things until later on. That’s normal.
You may also find that the therapist asks a lot of questions so they can get an idea of where you are coming from. This is part of their job, too, since the main goal at this point is just for them to get a sense of who you are and whether or not therapy would be helpful for you.
Whatever you do, don’t hesitate to book that second therapy session. Since behavioral health professionals use specialized software that facilitates practice management for therapists, it’s easy for them to schedule appointments and oversee your electronic medical records. Thus, follow-up visits will never feel tiring thanks to the technology most top-class practices use.
Therapy Doesn’t Work the Same for Everyone
Therapy doesn’t work the same for everyone. What worked for your next-door neighbor might not be the best approach for you. It can take time to find the right therapist and treatment plan, so be patient with yourself and your therapist as you go through this process.
It is important to remember that therapy isn’t a quick fix. It’s a long-term investment in yourself and your relationships with others. You will make progress at different rates depending on what stage of life you are in, but it won’t happen overnight.
You’re Going to be Asked a lot of Questions
It’s not uncommon for your therapist to ask a lot of questions. They’re going to want to learn more about your life, your past, and how these things came together in the present situation. You might feel like they’re interrogating you at first, but their goal is actually just to have a conversation with you.
There’s no right or wrong way of answering their questions. They just want an honest answer from the heart. Thus, don’t be afraid if all this feels strange or awkward at first. Know that your honest answers will help your therapist understand you better.
You Might Feel Some Awkward Silences, But That’s Okay
Expect to go through some uncomfortable silences. Even if you’ve already been working on your issues with your therapist, you may still experience some awkward silences during sessions. This is because each person processes information in their own way and at their own pace and because therapy involves the exploration of difficult topics that can make it hard to keep up with the verbal flow.
Don’t worry because you’re not doing something wrong by sitting quietly for a moment. It just means that your therapist is listening and processing what you just said without rushing in to fill the silence with more conversation.
The first therapy session is an important milestone, but it’s not the end of the road. In fact, it’s just the beginning of your journey toward mental wellness.
In 2021, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that one in five U.S. adults is suffering from mental health issues. At some point, these people must seek therapy. For many of them, it will be the first time.
The most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone in this process. If you’re nervous about going into your therapist’s office for the first time, remember that they’ve been there before with many other patients and have lots of experience helping people feel comfortable. Therefore, there’s no reason why you should be afraid or uncomfortable when sitting with your therapist in your first therapy session.