What to Expect During Your First Visit to a Psychotherapist

To prepare you for your first meeting with your therapist, we’re going to discuss what you should expect so there are no nasty surprises

James Wilson
July 25, 2019
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Visiting a psychotherapist for the first time is always a nerve-racking experience. But you’re not alone. An expected 50% of Americans will experience some form of mental illness during their lives.

Mental health is crucial to living a healthy and happy life. It’s important not to delay seeking treatment if something doesn’t feel right in your life.

To prepare you for your first meeting with your therapist, we’re going to discuss what you should expect so there are no nasty surprises.

Understand the Point of a First Meeting

It’s unlikely that you’ll be getting deep into your mental health issues during your first meeting. The idea behind a first meeting with a psychotherapist is to lay the groundwork for future success by discussing a plan of action.

In other words, you’ll be told exactly how it works and you’ll also have the opportunity to ask questions to your therapist.

It’s about making you comfortable with the environment and understanding how your treatment program is going to progress.

It’s Like a Doctor’s Appointment

A lot of patients are surprised to find that when they meet their psychotherapist for the first time it’s similar to a doctor’s appointment. The real therapeutic treatment doesn’t begin until your second appointment.

You’ll sign in with the receptionist, sit in the waiting room, and wait until you’re called. Home practices, on the other hand, tend to be less formal than this.

Expect to be asked about technical issues, such as your insurance program. This will usually involve filling in a form or answering some questions.

Setting Expectations for The First Meeting

Psychotherapy can have a huge impact on your life. It’s estimated that 80% of patients leave therapy better off than those who decide to proceed without treatment.

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What you must understand is that there are no instant results with psychotherapy. You should expect to go through therapy for at least a few months before you start to see results.

The first meeting is more about getting to know your therapists and getting some information on how things are going to proceed.

Your future visits will dig more into the therapeutic side of things.

What Will You Be Asked During That First Meeting?

Many patients report the first meeting feeling more like a question and answer session than therapy. It’s an important step every therapist must go through because your answers will determine exactly how they approach your future sessions.

Some of the questions you might be asked include:

  • Why did you decide to attend therapy?
  • Some questions about your family background.
  • Questions about your current relationships.
  • What do you believe is wrong with your life?

Depending on how long the session is, they may also start to delve into your educational background, your career, and your living situation.

You should also expect to go through the administrative aspects of undergoing therapy. Your therapist will tell you about the importance of patient confidentiality and the different treatment methods that may be used.

At this time, you’ll also be able to ask questions about therapy and reveal any objections you may have to specific types of treatment.

Last Word – The First Psychotherapist Meeting Is A Getting to Know You Session

This is about ensuring that you get to know your therapist and you know what to expect. Your second session will involve digging straight into the therapy itself.

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You shouldn’t worry about the first meeting. Therapists always try to make it as easy as possible on the patient because they know how difficult it is to reach out and undergo professional treatment.

What’s your biggest worry about attending therapy?