Going to therapy for the first time can be overwhelming. What should you expect? How long will it last? Will it be awkward?
The stress that may accompany your first therapy appointment is normal. It’s typical to have questions, especially in the beginning. That’s why we created this FAQ to help you prepare for your first session. If you find yourself having more specific questions, reach out to your therapist.
A: No. Some people might bring a pen and paper to write down notes, but you do not need to bring anything specific. If you are doing your session via video telehealth, check out this article for some tips to make sure you have a smooth connection.
A: Your first session is really about your therapist getting to know you better. They're likely to ask several questions about your background and what brings you into therapy. You might get emotional, and that’s okay. Whatever emotions come to the surface during your therapy sessions are completely valid, and chances are, your therapist has seen other people who have had the same emotional reaction. No reaction you have will be judged or seen as “weird.”
A: Most therapists will ask questions about your background and family history during the first session. They might also ask questions like, “What is a typical day like for you?” or “Tell me about how you grew up.” These questions help them get to know you better before they dive deeper. It’s important for a relationship to take shape before things get too serious.
A: Not all therapists will allow others to attend the first session. If you plan on bringing someone with you, let your therapist know in advance so they can prepare for the session appropriately.
A: Most initial intake appointments are between 45-50 minutes long, and then you and your therapist can decide together on the length of future sessions. A typical session is 30-60 minutes. Some people suggest going to therapy on a day when you have a light workload. Having time before and after a therapy session to prepare and reflect can be beneficial.
A: Not at all! In fact, many therapists take notes. They’re trying to get to know you and wouldn’t possibly be able to remember all the details if they didn’t write them down. Note-taking is an invaluable resource to therapists and is in no way a worrisome sign during your sessions.
A: That’s up to your therapist, but homework is common. Nothing graded, don’t worry! Often it will be things like breathing exercises, journaling, or other self-care activities, but will vary based on your specific circumstances.
A: Most therapists aren’t licensed to prescribe medications but can connect you with someone who can.
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