“Rachel” is thinking of going to counselling, but she’s worried about it. She’s afraid she’ll start crying and won’t be able to stop. Or that she’ll get tongue-tied and be unable to explain why she’s there in the first place. 

Here’s what I want “Rachel” to know: 

It’s really common to feel anxious about starting therapy. Most clients feel a bit worried about what to expect at the outset. It’s a very courageous decision to start therapy and it’s only natural that it can feel a bit daunting. 

Many people worry a bit about knowing what to say or being unable to stop crying or feeling overwhelmed. As a counsellor, I know that you might be feeling anxious and I will go at your pace.

What your Therapist wants you to know 

Your counsellor isn’t psychic and only knows what you choose to tell them. Your counsellor might ask some questions to help them understand what’s going on for you, but they will be gentle and won’t push you to share things until you feel ready.

Your sessions aren’t recorded and you don’t have to lie down on a couch.

The issue you want to discuss isn’t trivial or silly. If it’s affecting you, it’s valid.

Coming to therapy isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s extremely brave. Life can pose challenges, it doesn’t come with an instruction manual and sometimes we all need help and support. 

Therapy isn’t about “fixing” you because you’re not broken (though it can feel like it). Therapy can help you to heal and to nurture yourself.

You wouldn’t think twice about servicing your car, but when it comes to our own wellbeing we can put up with discomfort for years.

Therapy is the ultimate form of self-care that you can give yourself. It’s about making changes that could benefit you now and for the rest of your life. Think of it as mental maintenance and investing in yourself. 

Preparing for Your First Therapy Session

7 Professional Tips for Preparing for Your First Therapy Session

Before your first therapy session, it’s natural to feel a bit nervous or uncertain about what to expect. However, there are a few things you can do to help you feel more prepared:

  1. Take some time to reflect on what you hope to gain from therapy and what your goals are.
  2. Think about specific issues or challenges you want to work on in therapy.
  3. Write down any questions you have for your therapist.
  4. Arrive early to your appointment to give yourself time to settle in.
  5. Be open and honest with your therapist about what you’re feeling and experiencing.
  6. Remember that therapy is a process, and progress may take time. Be patient with yourself.
  7. Try not to schedule anything directly after your session – give yourself some time and space to process.

Tips to Help You Prepare for Your First Counselling Session

Similarly, if you’re seeing a counsellor for your first session, there are a few steps you can take to ensure you make the most of your time with them:

  1. Think about any issues or challenges you want to discuss with your counsellor.
  2. Be open to the therapeutic process and willing to explore your thoughts and feelings.
  3. Ask your counsellor any questions you have and be honest about your concerns.
  4. Remember that counselling is a collaborative effort between you and your counsellor. Be willing to work together towards your goals.
  5. Try to remain open-minded and avoid judging yourself or others during your sessions.

What to Expect in Your First Therapy Session

Your first therapy session may feel a bit different from what you’re used to. However, it’s a safe space for you to explore your thoughts and feelings without judgement. During your first session, your therapist may:

  • Ask you some questions about your background, history, and any current concerns you’re facing.
  • Listen attentively to your responses and provide empathy and support.
  • Help you develop goals for your future sessions and form a plan.
  • Provide information about the therapeutic process and answer any questions you may have.

Choosing the Right Therapist

13 Tips for Finding the Right Therapist

Choosing the right therapist is crucial to having a successful therapeutic experience. Here are a few tips to help you find the right fit:

  1. Think about the type of therapy you’re seeking and what issues you want to work on.
  2. Consider the therapist’s credentials, experience, and approach to therapy.
  3. Look for a therapist who specialises in the issues you’re facing.
  4. Ask for recommendations from friends, family, and your GP.
  5. Research potential therapists online. Remember that some therapists don’t display testimonials or reviews for ethical reasons. 
  6. Contact potential therapists to learn more about their services and ask any questions you have.
  7. Consider the logistics of attending therapy, such as location, scheduling, and cost.
  8. Be upfront about any concerns or reservations you may have about therapy.
  9. Trust your gut instinct – if a therapist doesn’t feel like the right fit, it’s okay to keep looking.
  10. Remember that success in therapy is largely based on the therapeutic relationship, so finding the right therapist is key.
  11. Consider online therapy options if you’re unable to find a therapist in your area.
  12. Be willing to communicate openly with your therapist and ask for what you need.
  13. Be patient – finding the right therapist may take time, but it’s worth the effort.

Questions to Ask Your Therapist to Ensure a Good Match

When you’re considering a therapist, it’s important to ask them questions to ensure that they’re the right fit for you. Here are a few questions you can ask to help you make an informed decision:

  • What is your approach to therapy? What type of therapy do you practice?
  • What experience do you have working with clients who are facing similar issues to me?
  • What are your qualifications and credentials?
  • What is your availability like? How often can I expect to see you?
  • What is your cancellation policy?
  • Have you worked with clients from diverse backgrounds before?
  • What is your fee and do you accept insurance? If not, are there other payment options available?
  • What are the expectations for our therapeutic relationship and what can I expect from therapy?
  • How do you handle confidentiality and what are your boundaries as a therapist?

What Makes a Therapist a Good Fit: Tips for Choosing the Right One

Ultimately, the right therapist is one who is a good fit for you personally and professionally. A good fit entails:

  • Feeling comfortable and safe opening up to your therapist
  • Feeling heard, understood, and respected by your therapist
  • Feeling that your therapist has your best interests at heart
  • Feeling that your therapist is competent, experienced, and knowledgeable
  • Feeling that the therapeutic relationship is collaborative and supportive

Understanding the Therapeutic Process

Therapy: What It Is and How It Works

Therapy is a process of exploring your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours in a safe and supportive environment. The therapy process can help you gain insight into your own patterns of thinking and behaviour, and develop coping strategies for difficult situations. 

What Your Therapist May and May Not Do: Understanding Boundaries

It’s important to understand that therapists have professional and ethical boundaries that they must adhere to. While the therapeutic relationship can feel personal and intimate, it’s important to remember that your therapist is a professional who is there to help you. Your therapist may:

  • Listen attentively to your thoughts and feelings
  • Provide empathy and emotional support
  • Help you develop goals and strategies for change
  • Provide feedback and insight
  • Teach you skills and coping strategies

However, your therapist may not:

  • Provide friendship outside of therapy
  • Engage in romantic or sexual relationships with their clients
  • Disclose personal information or opinions about themselves
  • Offer advice or tell you what to do

Why You May Feel Nervous Before Your First Session: Understanding the Therapeutic Approach

It’s completely normal to feel nervous or apprehensive before your first therapy session. In fact, many people experience feelings of uncertainty or fear before they start therapy. One reason for this is that therapy often involves exploring difficult emotions and experiences, which can be challenging. Additionally, the therapeutic process can feel vulnerable or exposing, which can be uncomfortable for some people.

However, it’s important to remember that therapy is a safe and confidential space for you to explore your thoughts and feelings without fear of judgement. Your therapist is there to support you and help you navigate difficult emotions, and the therapeutic process can ultimately lead to healing and growth.

Confidentiality and Trust in Therapy

What You Need to Know about Confidentiality in Therapy

Confidentiality is one of the most important aspects of therapy. When you share personal information with your therapist, you need to feel confident that it will be kept confidential. When you come for your first therapy session your counsellor will explain about how they safeguard confidentiality.

If you’re considering starting therapy, congratulations on taking the first step towards better mental and emotional well-being! It can feel daunting to begin therapy, but it’s a courageous and important decision. In this article, I’ll explore what to expect during your first therapy session, what the therapeutic process is all about, and why confidentiality and trust are so important in therapy.

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