A Professional’s Guide to Preparing for Your First Counseling Session

After consulting with dozens of self-care books and heeding advice from friends and family, some patients find that they still cannot recover from psychological trauma or anxiety. While the decision to undergo therapy can be formidable, it is always a brave step towards recovery that one should celebrate. If you are nervous about attending your first session, take a look at these professional tips to help ease your mind and begin the recovery process. 

1. Applaud your decision

Sharing your inner thoughts and deepest pains with someone new is never an easy task. Taking a leap in itself is a victory and one that you should acknowledge. While it’s only the first step towards healing, it is perhaps one of the biggest ones you will take. 

2. Do not be afraid to ask questions.

In most cases, you will not be addressing your issues from the get-go, but not knowing what to expect can throw you for a loop. Asking the right questions, such as how your sessions will be structured and what your therapist’s counseling style is can bring you a more profound sense of security and level your expectations. 

3. Understand that all your information is confidential

Expected to adhere to strict federal privacy regulations, you can rest assured that whatever you tell your therapist will remain between you and them. The only occasion in which these regulations don’t apply is when a therapist deems a patient at risk to themselves and others, thus having to relay the information to authorities. 

4. Know what you want to achieve

Consider therapy like the beginning of a new project. Your first session will be dedicated to goal-setting. How you and your therapist collaborate in the sessions to come will dictate whether these goals are achievable or need to adjust to your present capabilities and realistic expectations. 

5. Make mental space before and after your session.

Take some time before and after your first session to create some mental space. This will allow you the time to reflect, internalize, and enter an introspective space entirely uninterrupted. An increase in tension or overwhelming emotions is typical as you prepare to open up to your therapist. Taking the time to keep your fight or flight instincts at bay can make for a smoother, more comfortable session. 

6. Calibrate your expectations

As far as the first sessions go, most are intended for clerical work and give the therapist an idea of whom they’re working with. In fact, a first session is usually more productive for a therapist than it is for a patient. Getting to know how you behave and respond can dictate to professionals how you tackle other issues outside of your presenting problem. 

7. Know that your counselor is there to help you

Most patients are fearful of the notion of having to share their weaknesses, frailties, and wrongdoings but need to keep in mind that the therapist’s goal is not to judge you even if you judge yourself. While much of your sessions may focus on airing out dirty laundry, a therapist’s primary goal is to help you improve, identify, change your self-destructive habits and thoughts, and improve open communication between yourself and your surroundings.

Conclusion

The path towards positive change begins with acknowledging that you may need external support. It’s important to note that going into therapy isn’t an indication of being incapable but rather that you are proactive in kickstarting your healing process. Going into your first session with an agenda and willingness to improve is beneficial to both you and your healthcare provider.

At Therapy24x7, we provide cognitive behavioral therapy, grief counseling, and psychotherapy through licensed and professional life coach therapists in NYC. By reaching out to us, you can begin your path towards becoming the person you aspire to be.


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