Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in July 2021, but was updated in February 2022 to include information about a Brief Assessment Session for new, out-of-network clients.
Going to therapy for the first time can be intimidating. What should I say? What are they going to ask? Are they going to judge me? Being nervous before your first session is normal, but you shouldn’t let it stop you from trying therapy at all. To help you prepare, here are a few things you can expect from your first therapy session.
But first, What to expect before your first therapy session
Due to new guidelines, as of January 2022, you may experience a brief assessment session before your first meeting with your therapist. This session will be with an intake therapist and will last around 25-30 minutes. In this session, you will learn more about the practice, have a chance to ask any questions you have, and discuss your reasons for wanting to start therapy along with your goals for therapy. This will give the practice a chance to get to know you better and connect you to a therapist who will be a good fit for you. At Atlanta Therapeutic Collective, this intake session costs $70. You are not required to schedule a session with a therapist after this appointment. However, if you choose to, you have 30 days to do so. After 30 days, you will be required to do another intake to update any changes.
What to expect from your first therapy session
Your first therapy session is all about you and your therapist getting to know each other. It’s a time to share your story with your therapist, get comfortable, and even set some goals for your time together. To get things started, your therapist might ask you some questions like the following:
What brings you in today?
Why did you decide to try therapy?
What have you been struggling with lately?
What do you feel is going wrong in your life?
They might also ask you questions about your family, living situation, current job, and even your childhood. This is all to help them get a better understanding of who you are and how they can help.
What should I say in therapy?
There is no “right” thing to say when starting therapy. However, being as open, honest, and vulnerable as possible can help your therapist understand where you are coming from and how to better help you. It can be challenging to open up to a stranger about very personal issues, but remember, your therapist is a trained professional who is here to help. You wouldn’t withhold information from your doctor if you thought something was going wrong, and the same should go for your therapist. Try your best to tell them what is really going on and what made you decide to see a therapist in the first place. Even if it is hard, it will pay off in the long run.
What questions should I ask my therapist?
In short, you should ask your therapist anything that will help you feel more comfortable. You may want to know how long sessions typically last, how often they would like to see you, or how long they anticipate treatment lasting. You could also ask if they think they are a good fit for you after explaining why you have decided to try therapy.
You can also ask about resources that might be available to you outside of therapy. Depending on what you have come to therapy for, they might recommend specific books, support groups, or other resources to help you between sessions.
Therapy doesn’t have to be scary
Starting therapy can be intimidating when you don’t know what to expect. However, taking that first step and showing up for your first appointment can be life-changing. If you have more questions about therapy or would like to schedule your first appointment, be sure to reach out to us. We are happy to answer your questions or help you find a therapist who is right for you.