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Seven Things You Need to Know Before Going to Your First Therapy Session

Congratulations on making the best decision you will ever make for yourself!  Therapy can be exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time.  But for the first timers, therapy can be terrifying because you don’t know what to expect.  Here is my guide on what to expect when getting therapatized. 

  • 1. Do your research!

It’s nothing worse than going to a therapist that doesn’t specialize in what you need help with.  That’s like going to a dentist for a broken foot.  That’s not going to work…at all.  I encourage people to Google therapist in their area that work with depression, anxiety, or whatever it is you are searching to improve in your life.  If you have friends or family in the mental health field, it’s always good to pick their brain about the type of therapist to see. Often times they will recommend someone that they know and trust.  

  • 2. Logistics

It’s nothing worst than being late to an appointment, it’s probably worse for a therapy appointment.  Therapist usually have a grace period but if you show up later than 15 minutes (and that’s being generous) some therapist will charge you the full amount for the session or you’ll have to reschedule or both.  If you are running late (because life happens) be courtesy and let your therapist know.   But it’s just better to be on time or a little early so you can sit in the waiting room and read magazines and destress from the day.

  • 3. Paper Pusher

After chilling in the waiting room, your therapist will call you to his/her office. For your first session the therapist will hand you A LOT of papers.  You’ll probably get Consent to treatment, HIPPA or Rights to Privacy, Information form, Release of Information and Informed Consent.  You will probably wonder if you are selling your soul to the therapist and the answer is yes! HA! But these forms are to protect you and your therapist.  Here’s a brief overview of each one…

  • HIPPA – Basically says the therapist will keep your info confidential and you have a right to look at your file.
  • Consent to treatment – You give the therapist the right to conduct therapy
  • Information form – All you personal info like address, phone number, etc.
  • Release of Information – Allows the therapist to speak to your doctor/psychiatrist if you sign 
  • Informed Consent – Some ground rules for the therapist like being late and payment. If you sign, you state that you agree to the rules.

There may be other forms like a payment form and insurance information form. If you decide not to sign forms then it will be up to the therapist to decide whether or not to move forward with you as a client.

  • 4. Show me the Money!

Payment, whether that’s a co-pay or self pay, will either be collected at the beginning or the end of a session.  Most of the therapist I know get the money in the beginning just in case a session is running over and they forget to collect.

  • 5. Time to Spill it!

Your first session will be you doing a lot of talking with your therapist.  The therapist will ask you a ton of questions or may even fill out an assessment with you.  DISCLAIMER:  YOU HAVE TO BE OPEN AND WILLING TO TALK FOR THERAPY TO WORK!  I get that this is you first time talking to someone about your issues and you can feel vulnerable.  But I encourage you to talk to your therapist who is unbiased, nonjudgemental, and will keep ALL your secrets.  It may be the best thing you ever do.

  • 6. Closing

Closing can be awkward.  Opening up to a complete stranger that actually listened and didn’t give you advice can be relieving and exciting.  That’s a great feeling to have after a therapy session!  That same feeling is what gets you to keep coming back. Bonus– If you don’t like your therapist (and this is possible), it is okay to go to another therapist that suits you better.  It’s nothing worse than getting service from someone you don’t like (for example, your hairdresser.  You only go to her because she knows how to style hair.  Yes, I’m talking to you).

  • 7. Reflection

You survived your first therapy session.  Now is the time to go home reflect and take that nap you’ve been waiting on.  You did good work, you might as well reward yourself.  

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