First Time Seeing a Therapist

Guest Contributor: Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross, Therapist

“I’m going to start seeing a therapist next week, and I’m scared out of my mind as I’ve never been to one before. I hate talking about things like how I feel and all that stuff. Is this something to be worked up over? What can I expect from this when I go?”

The first time people see a therapist they are often apprehensive for many of the reason you describe. Keep in mind that you are in control of what information you share about yourself and how fast you disclose your feelings. The therapist will help guide you through the process but you will set the pace.

Every therapist works a bit differently depending upon their theoretical orientation and their personal style but there are some basic things you can expect at the first session.

The therapist will most likely gather your basic information by asking you to fill out a set of forms. He or she will go over their office policies and the limits of confidentiality (what they can and cannot share outside of the session).  This is an opportunity for you to ask questions as well. You can ask how they work and what is expected of you in this process. At this time they will probably ask you to tell them something about yourself or they may ask you to describe what has brought you into therapy at this time. I typically ask each of my clients at the first session what they would like to see happen as a result of coming into therapy. This is a solution-focused approach and is designed to help to begin to establish goals.

There is truly nothing to fear about this process and in fact there is much to be hopeful about. The possibility of improving your current situation and taking control of your life will increase tremendously if you embark on this journey of self exploration.

Make sure to let the clinician know about your fears and your anxiety about the process. They are trained to help make this experience easier and create a safe and nurturing atmosphere. You may ultimately decide that talking about your feelings and ways to improve your life is something that you actually enjoy. Try to relax and look at your first session as an introductory meeting where you have the opportunity to get to know the therapist’s style as they learn a bit about you. Remember you are in charge of the pace but you’ll need to begin to surrender to the process if you want to experience any real change. That surrender doesn’t happen right away, and when it does you will be ready for it.

Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross is a therapist and weekly blogger for – – a health and wellness online support group site. Find support and answers to your health questions and life challenges by browsing over 500 support groups and interacting with members who are going through the same things you are.


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