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Your first therapy session: What to expect

Your first therapy session can be daunting. What will my therapist be like? What will they ask me to talk about? Will I start to feel better right away, or will it take time?

first therapy session

We understand that starting therapy can be nerve-wracking, so we want to clear the air on some of the things to expect! While each therapist is unique and intake sessions may vary from person to person, here are some of the most common elements of your first therapy session.

1. “What brings you in today?”

Your therapist will likely ask you this age-old question to get a sense of what’s bothering you in the here & now. They’ll want to understand what made you seek out therapy, and what the primary concern is that you have, so they can best support you with these problems. Therapists will ask you to describe what changes or symptoms you’ve noticed in yourself that prompted you to ask for help. 

2. Getting to know you.

While you may be in therapy for a specific reason, your therapist will also want to understand you as a whole person. You may get questions from them about how you spend your time, who you live with, what your daily routines look like, and what activities bring you joy or relieve stress for you. Knowing these things about you helps your therapist see you more authentically and holistically. 

3. Understanding your personal history.

In addition to the current stressors of today, your therapist will want to understand what previous experiences you have gone through that caused you stress, anxiety, worry, or trauma. But here’s an important note – you get to control how much you share, and when. It takes a certain level of comfort to disclose some of these experiences, so if you don’t feel that comfort on day one, it’s OK to wait until you’re feeling safer before talking about them.

4. Prior experiences with therapy. 

You may be asked about what has worked for you in the past regarding therapy or mental health treatment, and if you have any approaches that you either prefer or dislike. And if it’s your first experience with therapy, you’ll likely be asked what your expectations are for what you’d like to get out of therapy.  


5. You get to ask questions!

Your first therapy appointment isn’t just about being interviewed; you can also interview your therapist! There are many different types of therapy, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, EMDR, Solution-Focused Therapy, and more, and many different reasons people seek out therapy. Find out if your therapist has experience with the type of stressor you’re experiencing, whether it’s depression, anxiety, trauma, life changes, relationship stress, grief, or something else, to determine if they’re a good fit for you.


A few other notes on starting therapy: 

• Your therapist may begin to understand what your symptoms are and offer some insight into potential diagnoses, but likely will not offer you information about your diagnosis on day one. Your therapist can refer you to a neuropsychological exam for diagnostic clarity. 

• If you are interested in starting psychiatric medication for your symptoms, a therapist can refer you for an evaluation with a medication provider, such as a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner. 

Starting therapy is an exciting step. You’re about to begin a journey of understanding yourself better, uncovering how certain experiences have impacted and shaped you, and learning how to manage personal challenges.

Now that you know a bit more about what to expect in your first session, we hope you reach out to us at Revive Therapeutic Services, and get started on this journey today!  

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