Beginning treatment with a mental health therapist can be extremely nerve-wracking. After all, you’re about to divulge a lot of information about your personal life with a stranger. If you’ve never been to any kind of therapy before, you may have no idea what to expect or have a preconceived notion that causes you stress.
Your first session with your therapist will be primarily an information-gathering meeting. They’ll want to know what has brought you to them, but they will also ask a lot of questions about your family, your relationships and your personal history. They are not there to judge you, just gather as many facts as possible to help them help you later on.
Here are ten tips to help you experience a good first session with your new therapist:
1. Before you go, try to mentally prepare yourself. Remember, you will be in a safe space with someone who wants to help you. They understand that some things will be embarrassing and they will not repeat anything that you tell them.
2. Give yourself permission to be nervous. Remember, if you don’t feel comfortable, you always have the option to leave. Some people have to try multiple therapists before they find the one that’s right for them. If you do feel like you’ve had a negative experience, you don’t have to return. Just knowing that will put you at ease.
3. Arrive early. Getting there ten minutes early or more will allow you to sit down, relax and think about what you want to say.
4. Take care of “business” first. If you have scheduling questions or other pressing issues, ask them at the beginning. Then you can devote the rest of your session to the issue at hand.
5. Be honest. You don’t want to waste your time or your therapist’s time. If you try and paint a better picture of your life than what really is, the professional may believe you and misdiagnose you (or suggest less effective treatment). If you want help with your addiction, for example, don’t say you have two drinks a day when you really have five.
6. Don’t jump to conclusions. Sometimes first impressions aren’t entirely accurate. Trust your gut when it comes to your therapist, but give them a fair chance.
7. Ask them to clarify anything you don’t understand. Sometimes therapists use jargon, and you can ask them to explain what they mean.
8. Share your thoughts freely. Do not censor yourself. No one’s feelings need to be spared during your session.
9. Plan a good ending. Neither you or your therapist will know how long your treatment may take, but you can both set goals and come up with an ideal time frame.
10. Give feedback! If you feel safe, let them know. If there’s something you’d like to do differently, speak up. Therapists value feedback, and their goal is to treat you effectively.
If you’re seeking a psychiatrist in Costa Mesa California, Dr. Tucker has a great reputation and a good track record for making new patients feeling comfortable. Call (972) 473-7628 to set up an appointment.