Family preparing for first counseling appointment

Taking Steps To Be Prepared For Your First Counseling Appointment

The choice to take part in therapy is one that sets you on the path to greater well-being and mental health. Be proud of your decision. It is not one that should be taken lightly and takes a great deal of strength to commit to. If you’re feeling a significant amount of anxiety, stress, or even fear at the prospect of your first counseling session, know that you’re not alone. This is a commonly reported experience for those entering therapy for the first time and is a sign that you both care about your mental health and are taking things seriously.

How To Prepare For Your First Appointment

For those entering counseling for the first time, it can often be difficult to really know the precise ‘why’ of the appointment. You may know that there are behaviors and thought patterns that are harmful to yourself or those around you, but the underlying reason can be difficult to ascertain. Knowing what you hope to accomplish by attending counseling can help, but know that an answer as vague as ‘feeling happier and less stressed’ is as sound of a starting point as any. One of the first questions that your counselor is likely to ask you is what brought you to therapy. Spending some time before your visit trying to determine that ‘why’ can help, and here are some techniques to aid in that process:

  • Take time aside each day leading up to the first session to spend 10-15 minutes thinking about your reason for going.
  • Ensure that the spot you choose is comfortable, quiet, and free from interruptions.
  • Begin a therapy notebook before your first visit and write your thoughts in it.
  • Use comforts like music and tea to aid you in your self-reflection.
  • Consider your goal and what results you want from therapy, including the changes you see.
  • Make notes about what you feel is standing in the way of that goal now.

Spending time to know what your goals are before you arrive will help you start doing the work to make the changes you desire. If there are multiple people attending therapy, it can help to encourage them to take these steps as well. However, focus only on your own healing and progress. We can only truly control our actions and leave others to make their choices for themselves.

Contact Your Therapist For Other Tips And Options For Therapy

One thing that’s important in any therapeutic relationship is open communication and honesty with your therapist. What you share with them is in confidence, and only by being honest about your feelings and struggles will help you see real progress. Some therapists offer visits through other mediums, including phone and video chat. Some patients even prefer that their first visit with a therapist be over the phone, and many therapists who work in person will offer this as an alternative for an opening visit. Call your mental health provider and see what options they offer today and other tips for how to prepare for your first session.

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Helene A. Miller / And Other Providers
Family Psychiatry and Therapy brings compassion, understanding, and skilled care to patients throughout New Jersey. Our team of mental health professionals focuses on providing a positive and uplifting experience that aids our patients in facing life’s toughest challenges.