Navigating Your First Therapy Appointment

by | Jan 28, 2024 | Uncategorized

Making the decision to receive support from a professional can be daunting. If you’re considering therapy for the first time, it’s natural to feel a mix of anticipation and uncertainty. To help demystify the process, let’s explore what you can expect in your initial session of psychotherapy.

What Does The Process Of Your First Therapy Appointment Look Like At Mindful Therapies?

Initial Contact and Assessment

When you call Mindful Therapies and speak with one of our administrative supports, they will be trying to briefly understand the nature of your issue so that they can assist and suggest which therapist may be the best fit. Although there is overlap in some of the work our therapists do, it is also the case that each therapist have unique aspects of practice as well. Here is where you can also mention if you have a preference for online/virtual sessions or in-person, your location, whether you prefer a male or female therapist, or any other preferences you have. Once a therapist is chosen, you will be asked some basic demographic information to get your file set up and appointment confirmed.

The First Session: Exploring Concerns and Goals 

A standard therapy session at Mindful Therapies is 50 minutes, for couples it is 75 minutes. In the first session, the therapist will ask you to describe the nature of your current concern(s), along with the history of that concern. They will likely also try to understand what your goals for therapy are. You are more than welcome to ask any questions you might have about therapy – you can ask about your therapists training and background, about the process of therapy, what your therapist would recommend for therapy for your specific issue. It is in the first session that both the therapist and client should learn if they are a good match for working together. Research shows that the strength of the therapeutic relationship accounts for a significant portion of positive therapy outcome (Norcross & Lambert, 2018).

 Building the Therapeutic Relationship

How can you tell if it will be a good therapeutic relationship? Some of what goes into this can be the natural ease that you might feel with the person who is trying to help. Are they professional, do they seem knowledgeable about the issue that you have brought in? Do you feel comfortable in discussing sensitive issues, and does it feel like a safe supportive environment to be in? Each of these factors are important, as the goal of therapy is to be able to explore aspects of your personality, life, behaviour that perhaps you have not explored before.

Navigating the Experience and Self Care

Psychotherapy can leave you feeling vulnerable at times and having a strong feeling of support from the therapist will help you navigate these difficult and at times uncomfortable emotions. In some therapeutic settings, the therapist may gently challenge your old patterns of thinking and behaving; hopefully this can be done in a therapeutic and respectful manner, with the goal of creating positive change. 

Additional Considerations:

  • Remember, therapy is a gradual process, not an instant solution. Be patient with yourself and the journey.
  • Open communication is key. Don’t hesitate to express your concerns or ask questions.
  • If you don’t feel a good fit, it’s okay to explore other options within Mindful Therapies or elsewhere. Finding the right therapist is crucial for your success.

By the end of the first session, you should have felt heard regarding the issue you want to work on. You should also have a sense of what working with that therapist would look and feel like. The therapist can often give you a general sense of how many sessions and how often therapy should occur to get you moving in a positive direction or decrease the symptoms you are experiencing. Many people feel tired after their first session because they have talked about a lot in a short amount of time, and perhaps emotions have been stirred. Give yourself some extra comfort after your first session – go for a walk, journal, or do something that allows you to mentally process the session and relax your physical body. 

Rebecca Boehm

Rebecca Boehm

Dr. Boehm is a Registered Psychologist, who received her PhD at the University of Saskatchewan. She worked for a number of years in the Nova Scotia health care system in the areas of Addictions, Operational Stress Injury and Forensic Assessment. She started Mindful Therapies in 2016, and continues to offer diagnostic assessment services related to trauma and military service. She is currently on leave from therapy services.