If you’re seeing a therapist for the first time, you may be apprehensive about the process. How does therapy work? What should you expect at your first therapy session? Is there anything you need to say, do or bring ahead of time?
We want you to feel confident and prepared before your first therapy appointment. Here is a quick guide to get you started.
Plan to Complete Intake Paperwork before Your First Appointment
Before your first therapy appointment, there is usually some paperwork to fill out. Here at CNLD Testing & Therapy, we have transitioned to a contactless digital format for intake paperwork to allow patients to complete necessary forms in advance. If your therapist office does not offer digital forms, plan to arrive 15-30 minutes ahead of your appointment time to complete these papers. The paperwork may include:
- HIPAA forms
- Insurance information
- Therapist-patient agreement
- A confidential questionnaire about your symptoms and reasons for pursuing therapy
- Medical history and a list of your current medications
- A record release form to approve the therapist office to receive records from a physician, psychiatrist, or previous mental health provider
Make sure you have your insurance information on-hand, along with your ID and prescription information (if needed).
Your First Therapy Session Is an Ice Breaker
The first therapy appointment acts as a getting-to-know-you session. Your therapist may ask questions about why you decided to start therapy and what you’re hoping to gain from therapy. This lays the foundation for future therapy sessions and provides a starting point for your therapist/patient relationship.
Think of this appointment like you’re meeting a new friend, classmate, roommate or coworker for the first time. Once you have a basic understanding of one another, then you can start to build a working relationship. Your therapist will become more in-tune with your needs as you progress through therapy, and you’ll become more comfortable about sharing information in your therapy sessions. You’ll continue building on this relationship, starting with the basic foundation from your first therapy session.
It’s OK to Feel Nervous about Therapy (But You Have Nothing to Worry about!)
It is common to feel nervous before your first therapy appointment. After all, this is a new experience for you, and any new experience can feel a bit unnerving. Nevertheless, we want you to feel safe and confident coming to CNLD Testing & Therapy. We provide a comforting, compassionate environment that is completely free of judgment.
If you have questions, we’re happy to answer them. If you need support, we’re here to provide it. This is a save space to overcome mental health struggles, identify your unique strengths, and discover healthy coping strategies that address your needs.
You May Get “Homework” for Your Next Therapy Appointment
Much of the progress you’ll make in therapy isn’t in the therapy sessions themselves. It’s in the homework you do in between the sessions. Let’s say you have a weekly therapy appointment that is 60 minutes long. That leaves 10,020 minutes in the week for you to implement the lessons learned in therapy.
Towards the end of your first therapy session, your therapist may ask you to complete a simple task for the next appointment. This could include making a list of personal achievements, journaling your thoughts for a day, thinking about when you first experienced mental health struggles, etc. Homework reinforces the types of progress made during therapy sessions, and it creates an introductory topic for your next appointment.
How Long Does Therapy Last?
Every therapy journey is unique. There is no defined timeframe for therapy. It all depends on what you hope to get out of therapy and when you feel those mental health improvements. Oftentimes our clients will continue seeing their therapist after they’ve “finished” making progress because they find comfort in having a positive, judgment-free support system. We’re here to guide you through your journey, no matter how short or long it may be.
Contact CNLD Testing & Therapy at (734) 994-9466 to get matched with a therapist and schedule your first therapy session.