If you are considering therapy, it is normal to feel nervous or unsure about what to expect in your first session.
Below is some information on what you can expect from your first therapy session.
Your first session will likely focus on introductions and getting to know what problem/s bring you to therapy. This session may involve some initial paperwork such as questionnaires, consent forms, acquiring contact information, and collecting a clinical history. This is to ensure that your therapist has a clear understanding of your background and can tailor their approach to best suit your needs.
Exploring Your Concerns
A significant focus of the first therapy appointment is exploring what brings you to therapy and what specific issues or challenges you may be facing. This is a time to discuss your goals and expectations for therapy. It can be helpful to think about these issues beforehand and it is also okay to attend with notes if you are worried that you may forget key areas you want to explore. Your therapist may ask questions to clarify your situation, and they will listen non-judgmentally as you share your thoughts and feelings.
Based on the discussion within the initial appointment, your therapist may work with you to set some initial goals or objectives. These might be short-term or long-term goals. They may also focus on specific behaviours, emotions, or thought patterns or the exploration of a range of experiences you would like to process. This is a collaborative process that will prioritise the areas of difficulty that are most prominent and important for you. Below are some examples of goals that may be identified during therapy:
Manage symptoms of anxiety or depression: You may identify the goal of developing strategies to manage symptoms of anxiety, depression and panic attacks.
Improve communication in relationships: You may be seeking therapy to enable you to express your emotions more effectively and develop communication skills within your relationships. Goals can also be identified to learn how to be more assertive and set healthy boundaries within the important relationships in your life.
Manage stress and develop coping strategies: Goals can be identified to learn techniques for managing stress or to improve your ability to better cope with difficult life events.
Increase insight and self-awareness: Goals can also be identified to gain a deeper understanding of yourself and understanding your thought and behavioural patterns.
Increase self-esteem and self-worth: Some people seek therapy to work on improving their self-esteem and self-worth, and to learn how to feel more confident in themselves and their abilities.
Collaborative Treatment Planning
Your therapist will work with you to develop a treatment plan. This will include identifying the focus of your therapy, the frequency of sessions, and the approach that will be used. Your therapist will collaborate with you to identify ways to address your concerns and help you achieve your goals. The conversation may also focus on the approach/approaches that will be utilised within your therapy sessions. Within A&F Psychological Services, our clinicians have expertise in a variety of therapy modalities, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Compassion Focussed Therapy (CFT) Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Schema Therapy, and more. We can also utilise integrative approaches and we aim to be person-centred when working with you. Discussion may also focus on how progress can be measured within your sessions and what you can do between sessions to support your therapeutic work.
Establishing a Therapeutic Relationship
During your first session, and within subsequent sessions, the main aim of therapy is to support the development of a therapeutic relationship within which you feel safe and open to discuss your experiences. A therapeutic relationship is built on trust, empathy, and understanding, within a non-judgmental environment. The first therapy session is an opportunity to begin building a trusting and supportive relationship with your therapist, and to start working toward the changes you want to make in your life. While it's natural to feel nervous or unsure, through open communication, a positive relationship with your therapist, and a willingness to engage in the therapeutic process, you can achieve positive outcomes and lasting change.
Considerations for Online Therapy
Online therapy, also known as teletherapy or virtual therapy, is a convenient and accessible way to receive mental health support from the comfort of your own home. Here are some of the key factors to consider before commencing online therapy:
1. Internet and technology requirements: Online therapy requires a reliable internet connection and a device (such as a laptop, tablet, or smartphone) that can support the teletherapy platform being used. Make sure that you have a stable internet connection before the start time for your session and we encourage you to log in a few minutes before the indicated start time.
2. Privacy and confidentiality: It is important to ensure that your online therapy sessions are private and secure. Please ensure that you are in a safe, comfortable space where you can discuss your experiences.
3. Your comfort level with technology: Online therapy typically takes place via video or phone, so you'll need to be comfortable using the technology you use to access your sessions.
According to the British Psychological Society (BPS) “There is good evidence that therapy can be delivered competently via different media, is usually acceptable to the client, and that it is possible to build up therapeutic relationships that are as strong as those formed in face-to-face therapy”.
Our clinicians utilise a range of measures to ensure your safety online and to support you to establish a safe therapeutic relationship within your sessions. We welcome discussions around the security of your sessions online and any other topics you would like to discuss.
Remember that your therapist is there to help you navigate whatever challenges you're facing and to support you in your journey toward healing and growth.