Tips to Help You Prepare for Your First Session with a Psychologist?
It is normal to feel anxious prior to your first psychotherapy session. As questions pop up in your mind, you may begin to feel overwhelmed. It is important to maintain a positive attitude before your first appointment with your psychologist. Do not let confusion make you feel powerless, anxious, and stressed.
Before you schedule your first appointment:
1. Think about the things you want to discuss with your psychologist.
2. Make a list of questions you want to ask your therapist and what you hope to get out of your sessions.
3. Set preliminary treatment goals and think about your main struggles.
To help you prepare, we shed light on what usually happens in the first session.
The First Appointment
You will be asked to arrive at least 10-15 minutes before your appointment to complete the necessary paperwork. After you have filled out all the forms, your psychologist will guide you to the consulting room. Consulting rooms usually have a desk, couch, and consulting chair.
If a friend or family member is accompanying you to your first appointment, discuss with them whether or not you’d like them in the consulting room.
Patient comfort is critical to the success of any session. If you get nervous or anxious in the setting, you won’t be able to open up to your psychologist. At this point, share your concerns with your psychologist. For example, if you get anxious sitting in a room with a closed door or sitting with your back facing the door, let your psychologist know so they can make the necessary arrangements.
After you settle down, your psychologist will go through the paperwork. They will make sure you understand the terms of service and confidentiality agreement. This is the right time to share your concerns about the treatment process with your psychologist. If you are not comfortable answering certain questions, let your therapist know so they can tailor the first session to your specific needs.
Your psychologist will ask you several questions about your hobbies and interests. They might ask you to describe a typical day in your life. The professional may also want to know more about you. They will want to know your medical history and will ask you to describe your feelings and emotions (especially when you feel stressed or overwhelmed).
Be honest with your psychologist. It is not uncommon that you might feel embarrassed or ashamed about some things you have done in the past or might not feel comfortable talking about certain feelings.Trust us when we say nothing will surprise an experienced psychologist and that their primary goal is helping you.
Your psychologist will analyze your answers to make an accurate diagnosis and develop an in-depth understanding of your condition.
You might experience a range of emotions while answering your psychologist’s questions. It’s perfectly normal to get emotional and have an outburst. You don’t have to apologize to your psychologist for feeling the way you feel.
Instead of trying to suppress your emotions, let them out. Expressing emotions is a healthy sign and can lead to strong relationship development between you and your therapist.
The initial session is different from other sessions. During the first session, the main focus of a psychologist is to get as much information about the patient as they can. After the first appointment, your psychologist will evaluate the information you have provided to understand your situation better.
At the end of the first appointment, your therapist will ask if you have any questions for them. Ask your therapist
➢ How long will the treatment last?
➢ How long will a regular session last?
➢ A brief explanation of what can you expect to happen in a regular session?
Before wrapping up the session your psychologist will summarize the discussion and ask you to jot down any key takeaways from the session.
As surprising as it may sound, you might learn new things about yourself. There will be moments of realization. Memories often fade. To ensure you are able to recall these moments in the future, take notes.
If your situation is complicated or long-standing, your therapist will determine if further assessment is warranted. When creating your treatment plan, your psychologist will factor in your goals.
What to Do After the Initial Session?
It’s normal to feel emotionally and mentally exhausted after your first session. Some people feel relieved after sharing their feelings with their psychologist. No matter how you feel, be sure to take stock of your feelings. If you feel mentally exhausted, take the rest of the day off.
Do something that makes you feel better. This can be anything like taking your dog for a walk, treating yourself to a scrumptious meal or taking a hot, relaxing shower. Discuss how you felt during and after the session with a friend or family member.
Decide if the Psychologist Is Right for You
To decide if the psychologist is the right fit for you, ask yourself the following questions.
➢ Did they make you feel comfortable?
➢ Did they make you feel heard?
➢ Did they show you acceptance and compassion?
➢ Do they have experience treating cases similar to yours?
The Cooper Mental Health team consists of some of the best psychologists near you. We go the extra mile, if required, to bond with our patients. We empower our practitioners to deliver patient-centered care. To make your first appointment with us, call (347) 244-7873.