Meeting someone for the first time can be stressful, daunting, and worrisome for a multitude of reasons. When meeting a new person, who is also expecting you to discuss your most vulnerable parts of yourself, can make entry into the therapy realm for the first time difficult. You don’t know how this person will respond to your comments, understand your plight, or will the therapist simply judge you for your revealing your most inner thoughts. All of these fears are very normal and I wanted to give a few tips towards that end.

  • Shop Around, not everyone is a good fit

    • This is my number one tip for people when they’re entering therapy for the first time as a client. You are paying for a service from a trained professional, you should get your money’s worth out of the service. If your therapist makes you feel uncomfortable and you both aren’t clicking, discuss the issue with your therapist. If you are not able to be vulnerable after discussing the issue with the therapist, then ask for a referral. Your feeling of safety and warmth is more important than the therapist’s feelings (mental health professionals are used to this sort of feedback and we understand).

  • Have a Game Plan

    • A common concern people have, I know I did when going to my first session as a client, is “what am I going to talk about?”. This is a good question to ask yourself before going to the first session. Maybe you want to discuss a relationship, anxiety or depression, lack of confidence, maybe you just want to vent, or you might not know what you want to talk about (that’s okay too). Another way I like to ask people about their goals for therapy, especially when they’re having a difficult time coming up with goals, is: “How would you know when therapy is done?” Therapy is for you, get what you want out of it.

  • BE YOU

    • It’s important to be the most congruent self you can be when entering therapy, whatever that may look like. If you find yourself holding back pent up emotions (like anger or sadness) in session, mention that to your therapist. You do not need to protect anyone from you, especially not the therapist. It is my belief that no topic is out of bounds in therapy sessions. If you are able to be yourself, then you are more likely to uncover the most true you.

  • Give Feedback

    • This last tip is the one I encourage most in my sessions. Being able to be open and honest about your concerns in therapy is crucial to successfully achieving your goals. Some common feedback to give is: “Can we talk about something else today?”, “I disagree” (It is perfectly healthy to disagree with your therapist, you are the expert of your own life), “Can we do that thing we did last week? I really enjoyed that.”, “You said _________ to me last week and that really hurt my feelings”, or “I feel as if I’m being attacked by you and my wife”. The important piece here is to speak your mind about the roads taken during sessions and Get what you want out of therapy.