Therapy N00b

Dear Emily,
I have my first ever appointment with a therapist/counselor next week. Any suggestions for how to prepare/what I should expect?
Therapy N00b

Dear N00b,
I applaud your decision to go to therapy! It’s great self-care and I recommend it for everyone who has the means to do it. The therapist will probably have your first session be a sort of intake session. Every therapist is different so it’ll look different for everyone, but in general you’ll give a little history of your life and discuss why you’re there.

Ideally, your therapist will assess your needs and find what’s the best technique for you. There are different forms of therapy that may work for what you need. Some people like little homework assignments to work on certain behaviors, and some people like a more relational style that focuses on understanding how they interact with others. It all depends on what you need and like. They may ask you what your goals are for your sessions. A typical goal would be “I want to increase my coping techniques and decrease negative thought patterns” (obviously that’s very clinical but I think you get the point).

You may not hit it off immediately with him or her, and that’s okay! In fact, it’s even okay to shop around for the right fit. If you feel like they aren’t understanding what you need/why you’re there, don’t feel obligated to keep seeing them. You can find another therapist, they won’t take it personally. It happens all the time.

Go in with an open mind and an understanding that this time is for you. You’re the captain of your therapy cruise and you get to decide what you want to talk about, and what you don’t want to talk about. Another note, if your therapist is too expensive or doesn’t take your insurance, ask if they operate on a sliding scale. Most will charge less for those who can’t afford the full amount. It’s actually in the code of ethics that therapists take a certain amount of clients as sliding scale!

Relax, be ready to do some hard work, and congratulate yourself. You’re doing a good thing!

With a high five and cheering,
Emily

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