What Will Happen in My First Therapy Session?
Your first session with your therapist will involve a few key elements. To start, the therapist and the client must be on the same page about your new working relationship, such as the expected frequency and timing of sessions, limits to confidentiality, and cancellation policy. They must also agree on how to reach one another between sessions and access help if there is a crisis. Some therapists make notes during this session; others will hold off until the session is finished. Regardless of the practice, the purpose of the first session is to get to know each other and build a counselling relationship in a trusting environment.
Your therapist wants to create a safe and comfortable environment to build an authentic relationship with you. An important way to do so is to go at a pace that you are comfortable with. Your therapist is happy to take your lead if you have something pressing that you want to unpack in the first session. Your therapist has also come prepared with questions to ask to get the process started if you are uncertain or nervous. It can be helpful to reflect ahead of time about what you want to gain out of the process. You can share as much, or as little detail about the topics you are asked about throughout therapy. We understand that it may take time to open up during your first therapy session and we do not feel the need to get “all the answers”.
Your therapist will get to know your story and specific needs during the first sessions. They will ask you several questions to get a sense of your goals and your concerns. They may also ask you about your work, family life, relationships, and physical health. This can help get a snapshot of where you are to measure change down the line. This can also help with understanding the impact your presenting concerns are having on your life and notice any themes or trends.
What is a “Choice Point”?
Therapy is often a time of transition. You may be finding yourself at a crossroads in your life journey, with immense emotional turmoil due to a combination of external and internal factors and stressors. Our therapists are here to help you navigate this complex, transitory period of change in your life.
The “Choice Point” is this exact moment at the crossroads, and you can choose to continue the same patterns that have led to this point or learn how to address the root causes of your problems. The necessary actions you will have to take may be difficult, but if they are aligned with the person you want to be and the lifestyle you are hoping to attain, it will be worth it in the long run. Think of our therapists as your professional ally to help you navigate this unfamiliar terrain and forge a new path forward.
How do I Find the Right Therapist?
When choosing a therapist, you must consider several factors. Your initial consultation is intended to be an opportunity for you to feel out your psychologist and see if you feel comfortable talking to them. The therapy relationship is foundational to therapy outcome. Pay attention to how the therapist makes you feel, not just what they say. Not every therapist will be a good fit for you. We recommend interviewing a few different therapists before making your choice, this is so you have a way to reference what felt right and what did not. Finding a therapist with whom you feel comfortable and whose approach matches your needs is important. Make sure to check credentials, reviews, and ask your support system for recommendations.
What Will It Be Like Getting to Know a Therapist?
It is normal for the therapy relationship to take time to build. Your therapist will ask you all sorts of questions to get to know you and to understand the challenges you may be facing. We are prepared with questions to ask if you are feeling uncertain of where to start. Please know that we gather a variety of information, but all of the information we gather is for a purpose. For example, we want to know about your presenting concerns and the impact it is having on your day to day life (e.g., sleep quality). We also want to know about your support system, your passions, and the things that comfort you or make you feel good. This will help during challenging sessions to help you shift gears before leaving our office. Finally, we may want to learn more about the past painful or traumatic experiences you have had. This will help to come up with a plan that will reduce your presenting concerns longer-term. No details will be required, and no lengthy discussions of these events will be necessary. It is simply to inform the treatment plan so that you can reach the outcomes you are seeking.
What Can I Expect Beyond the First Session?
Initial sessions will often involve goal setting and gathering some baseline information. This will give your therapist a snapshot of where you are currently at, as well as some context information surrounding some of your past difficulties. This will include learning about your strengths, inner resources, and external support system. This process takes 1-3 sessions on average, depending on your goals. Going forward, sessions will involve working on coping strategies that are relevant to your goals. Sessions may also involve preparing to work on past experiences that may relate to your presenting concerns. We are trained to identify root causes to your concerns and help you with lasting change, we will not rush to this stage of therapy until you are ready.