Whether you are new to therapy or have attended therapy in the past, the first session with a new therapist can leave you wondering what to expect. This uncertainty can lead to anxiety over meeting a new therapist. While every therapist has their own unique style to structuring the first session, also called the “intake session,” here are some examples of what to expect.
There are three things you can expect from the first session with your new therapist. First is the informed consent. This is where the therapist reviews with you what therapy is all about, including the limits to confidentiality, so that you can make an informed decision about doing therapy. If you have any questions about your therapist, what to expect from future therapy sessions, etc. don’t hesitate to ask questions. Therapy is a big commitment so you want to make sure you know what you are in for.
After the informed consent, your therapist will spend the majority of the session getting history from you. Your therapist will want to know not just what brings you in for therapy but also about your family relationships, education, work history, medical history and many other aspects of your life. To make therapy most effective, it is important that your therapist gets to know you and your history. Remember that while you are getting to know your therapist, it is ok if there are certain questions that you would rather not answer until further into the therapy process. Your story is YOUR story to share.
Lastly, the first session will include discussion about your goals for therapy; what do you hope to gain from therapy? What do you hope will be different in your life after therapy? Share your goals for therapy openly with your therapist. This will help your therapist create a plan for working together in therapy. If you are uncertain what your therapy goals are, that is ok too because your therapist can help you identify your goals.
The intake session is an opportunity for you and your therapist to get to know each other and begin to make a plan for how therapy will be helpful to you. Share what you feel comfortable to share during this first session. Don’t feel like you have to “tell it all.” We understand that building trust with your therapist is vital to feeling comfortable in sharing about yourself, and building trust takes time.