Hope For The Journey

10 Tips For Your
First Therapy

You may feel nervous about starting therapy. Many people aren’t sure what to expect in your first counseling session. You might be scared that the therapist will judge you or feel nervous about having to tell your story. It is my hope that this blog will help lessen those fears of the unknown, by providing helpful tips you can use to prepare yourself for therapy sessions.


Once you have connected with a counselor and arranged your first session, you may feel scared or nervous about the whole process. It may be helpful to remind yourself of your reason for reaching out to a therapist for services, because recognizing that additional support is needed to get you one step closer to your goals, is already a huge step towards your self-improvement and is honestly the hardest part of the process.


As your first appointment approaches, here are some helpful tips you can use to help prepare yourself mentally and physically.


Starting Counseling Tip #1: Establish Goals

Before you have your first session, you should have taken the time to reflect and think about clear goals you hope to accomplish from therapy. Everyone’s reasons for seeking therapy services are personal to them and there are no right or wrong reasons to have additional support. It may be valuable to think about what brought you to therapy and how you would hope to leave, in order to help form goals for yourself.

If you find yourself stuck about what goals you would like to set for yourself, that is totally okay! While it may be good to have clear goals for yourself, it is totally normal for individuals to be unsure and needing assistance sorting out their goals.

Starting Counseling Tip #2: Realistic Expectations

Therapy is such a great tool and can be very valuable, however it is not a cure-all solution. If you go into therapy thinking that you will be cured in your first visit or in a few sessions, you will be dissatisfied. It is helpful to recognize whether or not your goals are manageable and that you understand that therapy is a process that will require work between you and your therapist and that it will require you to practice what you learn outside of your sessions. It may take months or a few years to reach your goals and or the first therapist you meet may not be the one that you may finish your journey with, depending on your therapist’s specialties, experience, and your needs.

Starting Counseling Tip #3: Give Yourself Praise

It is not easy to seek help for mental health. In the past, there has been a huge stigma of mental health that prevents people from seeking help, however we have come a long way as a society (with some work still to be done), and have an awareness of how mental health can impact other important aspects of our lives. Still, many individuals are unable to take the step to connect with a mental health professional, so if you have come this far, it is to be recognized and celebrated.

Mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health, thus seeing a therapist to maintain your overall wellness, should not be much different than exercising to maintain your physical health.



Starting Counseling Tip #4: Schedule Your Session at a Time That Works for You

If you have never been to therapy before, you may not know how you will feel after a session. Some individuals feel fine enough after a session to return back to work, school, or other life obligations, while others may need more time to process their feelings and thoughts after a session. With that being said, to be safe, try to schedule your first appointment on a day and time when you have less obligations, so that you can be fully present in your session and have some down time after talking about feelings and other potentially hard stuff. Eventually, you will become aware of how you feel after sessions and will have more insight on how to schedule your session appropriately in the future.


Starting Counseling Tip #5: Set Time for Yourself Before the Session

It can be beneficial to schedule some time for yourself before the beginning of your session, especially if you find yourself nervous about your appointment. You may want to eat, drink, and take bathroom breaks before your session, so that you can be present during your session and eliminate possible distractions.

Starting Counseling Tip #6: Dress for Your Comfort

Therapy is not a job interview, so there is no pressure to dress up, unless that is comfortable to you. Dressing up in comfortable clothes, can help you feel relaxed and can help your confidence going into a session. It is important that you just be yourself and just wear what is comfortable to you, because physical comfort is connected to our emotional comfort, which allows us to be relaxed and vulnerable in our sessions.



Starting Counseling Tip #7: Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions during your sessions. You can talk as much or as little as you like in session, it is all about your comfort and sense of safety. It is important to know that there are no right or wrong questions in therapy, and even if the therapist does not have all the answers, they can help guide you to your answers that feels comfortable and safe for you. There is no shame in asking your therapist questions about billing, insurance, scheduling, or your therapist’s professional experience and strategies they apply in sessions. You can make a list of questions you have for your therapist and you can review your questions at the beginning of your scheduled session, so that you can feel confident.

Starting Counseling Tip #8: Being Open and Honest

As scary as it may be about being open and honest about your experienced feelings and thoughts, it is important that you share them with your therapist that way you can get the most out of therapy. This doesn’t mean that you need to unload all of your personal feelings in the first session, but do allow yourself to be comfortable with sharing what comes up for you in the session. Just remember that it is not a therapist’s job to judge you, but rather to help guide you and maintain your confidentiality.


Starting Counseling Tip #9: It is Okay to Switch Therapists

After going through a few sessions with a therapist, you can determine whether you feel like you and your therapist are a good fit. There is nothing wrong if you and your therapist are not a fit, because therapy is a personal experience that you deserve someone you can connect with and feel safe being vulnerable with, in order for therapy to be successful. We at Hope For The Journey allow individuals to schedule a meet and greet with a therapist, so that they can meet with the therapist, ask the therapist questions, and get a feel for their personality. Other therapists and practices, allow individuals interested in services to have a phone call with the selected therapist. 

If you are concerned about offending or upsetting your therapist about wanting to terminate services, don’t be. Therapists are professionals and will understand that you are doing what you feel like is for your best interest of your overall wellbeing and they will support and respect your choice. They can also help provide referrals that you can explore in your search for a new provider.

Starting Counseling Tip #10: Practice Self-Compassion

Again, I want to echo that it is pretty common to be nervous or anxious before your first session. As hard as it may be, try not to think too much about what you will say or how you should act in the session. Just focus and remind yourself that you are taking the step to improve yourself and add new strategies you can apply to your daily life. You’re allowed to experience feelings like being nervous, anxious, excited, and so forth.

Being hard on yourself for feeling scared or anxious is counterproductive to your goals for self-improvement, so please remember that feelings of nervousness are normal and you can even express your nerves with your therapist, which can be a nice way to break the ice and build rapport, a way to challenge your fears, and a way for your therapist to help practice grounding strategies with you.

Begin Therapy in Round Rock, TX, Austin, TX, or San Antonio, TX

Our team of caring therapists would be honored to support you in learning the skills to help you better cope with the issues you face. You deserve to feel hope again and prioritize yourself. To start therapy with Hope For the Journey, please follow these simple steps:

2. Meet with a caring therapist
3. Start receiving the support you and your teen deserve.

Other Services Offered At Hope For The Journey

Depression treatment isn’t the only service we offer. Our team is happy to offer a number of services from our Round Rock and Austin therapy offices. Mental health services include therapy for anxiety and depressiondomestic violencesexual assaultPTSD, and EMDR. Our team also provides support for family members of all ages with counseling for teens and young adultschildren and tweenscouplesmen, and parents/partners. Contact us today to learn more about our team and community involvement!

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