What to Expect During Your First Therapy Session
Updated: Aug 12
Entering therapy (especially for the first time) can feel intimidating or even scary. We understand! It is not easy to try something new and to feel vulnerable talking with someone about your feelings and problems. Read below to better understand what your first intake session with your new therapist will look like.
Below are some of the things that typically are covered in your first therapy session, and questions that you may want to keep in mind or to ask your new therapist.
First of all, the first session (or “intake session”) will not look like the rest of your therapy sessions. In this intake session, your new therapist will review the forms that you signed ahead of time, make sure that you understand things like the type of therapy that we provide, the fees, and logistics of how to log on to your therapy sessions. You can ask your therapist any questions that you have about these logistical issues. This part of the session may feel like the initial part of a doctor’s visit.
Then, your therapist will start to get to know you and the reasons that may have brought you to therapy. Your therapist will ask questions about your current symptoms, your life experiences, if you’ve ever attended therapy before (and if so, what did you like and what did you not like about that experience?), and the current important relationships in your life. Your therapist may also ask details about your life to better contextualize and understand how your symptoms are impacting your life. For example, if you are a lawyer and you have said that you are experiencing anxiety, your therapist may ask how your anxiety has impacted your career in your daily life.
Essentially, in this first session your new therapist is trying to get to know the basics about your life, the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that may have brought you to therapy, and how these are impacting your relationships and your daily life. Your therapist will want to know what you are hoping to achieve or learn in therapy. This information is important, because your therapist will be thinking about what type of therapy (for example, cognitive behavior therapy or dialectical behavioral therapy) may be a good fit for you, and also what types of strategies within these broad methods might be the most helpful to address the issues that you have discussed.
Your therapist will be mostly listening and gathering helpful information during this first session. This is also absolutely an opportunity for you to ask your therapist any questions that you may have and express any concerns that you may have as well.
Do you have concerns about therapy being right for you? Share them! Are you worried about a particular aspect of therapy? Share it! Do you want to request a particular type of therapy? Feel free to express this! This first session is a great time to share and problem solve around these issues. Some questions that you might find helpful to ask your therapist include: do you think that you will be a good fit for me? Do you often treat (anxiety/depression/trauma/adjustment/sleep/etc) issues? How long do you think my treatment might last? What in general might I expect from therapy with you?
Your therapist will be very happy to answer any of your questions. At the end of your first session, your therapist will likely provide some feedback or recommendations for your treatment based on what you have shared during the session. You will then make a plan with your therapist for your next session and going forward, and the process of therapy will begin!