The idea of beginning therapy can be extremely daunting, especially when it comes to your very first visit. Many worry that a certain stigma is attached to those who need therapy – that they can’t handle their responsibilities or are too weak to deal with their emotions on their own. In reality, knowing you need help and taking a step towards working on improving yourself is a sign of great strength. We want to help you feel as prepared and comfortable as possible before your first session so that you’ll know what to expect.
Therapy not only aids in finding ways to cope with specific memories or traumas, but it makes getting along with people and situations in everyday life easier as well. You’ll learn a variety of coping mechanisms and ways to lessen your stress and anxieties. It’s important to ensure you seek care from a licensed, credentialed psychological health care provider.
Before your first visit, make a list of all the things you want to mention to your psychiatrists or psychologist. This will ensure you don’t forget anything you want to ask about. Your therapist will begin with an assessment phase the first time you meet. They’ll ask about symptoms, medications you’re currently taking, your relationships with family and friends, any past treatments, substance abuse if applicable, and behaviors like exercise and eating habits as these all contribute to mental health.
Once your health care provider has an understanding of your symptoms and goals they will be able to create a treatment plan. This often includes monitoring and tracking your symptoms between your appointments, teaching you new coping skills, learning new behaviors, and changing thinking patterns. You may even get some homework from your therapist to help you practice your new skills from day to day on your own. Everything they suggest is catered specifically to you and your needs, and you should never feel as though you can’t share that you don’t think something is working.
Eventually, your visits may spread out and more time will pass between each of them once your symptoms begin to improve. This will give you the option of either ending sessions all together once you feel you’re able to use what you learned successfully, or you may just have them as needed. The key is to remember that seeking help makes you stronger, and your provider is working with you to help make life more enjoyable and fulfilling.