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What Can I Expect From My First Therapy Session?

Hannah Hopper, LPC, NCC 

There are many different reasons why people seek out therapy. Maybe there are things going on in your life right now that are causing you to feel anxious and stressed, or maybe there are some hurts from your past that you haven’t healed from yet. Some people come to therapy hoping to learn more about themselves, while others see it as a way to work on a relationship that is struggling. Whatever the reason is for starting therapy, it can be anxiety-producing. One way to ease the anxiety can be having an idea of what to expect during an initial session. 

But first, paperwork 

When you schedule an initial appointment to meet with a therapist, most practices will have several different kinds of paperwork for you to fill out first. Some practices will have you fill out the paperwork in person, but Symmetry Counseling has all of our forms online for you to fill out beforehand. Typically paperwork will include insurance information (unless you choose to pay out of pocket for all sessions), HIPPA forms, a therapist-client consent form, and a questionnaire about why you’re seeking counseling. Many therapists will look through this information before your first session to have a better understanding of your concerns and goals for counseling. 

What to expect 

When you enter the office it may feel similar to going to see your doctor. There is usually a waiting room, and your therapist will come out and call your name when they’re ready to start meeting with you. The first session will look similar to when you meet any other person for the first time. The therapist will have questions about you, and the more detailed and honest you can be will help your therapist as they develop a plan for your therapy. Usually questions will be about what you do, what you’re hoping to work on, your family, any spiritual beliefs, and goals you have for your time in therapy. The therapist’s goal is for you to feel safe and comfortable in their office, so generally the tougher questions won’t come up in an initial session. If you haven’t had an initial phone consultation with your therapist before the first session, there may be time for you to ask questions about the therapist’s style and plan for your sessions together. 

Possible frustrations from an initial session 

After leaving your first session, you might feel frustrated that there wasn’t enough time to say everything that you wanted to say. The first session is typically only an hour, and most of the conversation will be a broad overview of your life. Your therapist may check in with you the following session and see if there was anything else you wanted to say, or you can lead with that at the beginning of your second session. 

The first session could also leave you feeling frustrated if you’re hoping for solutions right away. Therapy is a process that takes time and it’s good to look for answers, but you probably won’t have those after only one session. But don’t give up after only a few weeks and give yourself several months to start making real changes. If you don’t notice anything different after several months of meeting with your therapist, it may be a good idea to have a conversation about things that aren’t working for you. Many therapists are open to feedback and are invested in helping you reach your goals. 

Start your therapy process today

Taking the first step to set up an initial therapy session can be a daunting task. But if you’re ready to take that first step and schedule a session, you can browse our therapist bios to find someone that is the right fit for you. You can contact Symmetry Counseling in Chicago today by calling 312-578-9990 to get matched with one of our licensed therapists.

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