Mental Health

Going to Therapy for the First Time? 5 Things to Know

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Going to therapy and actively working on your issues is tough work. Please don’t ever diminish that work or yourself.

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Growing up, I avoided therapy at all costs. Beginning in middle school, I knew that I had troubling issues which needed to be addressed. However, I did not want to go into an office and share my deepest, darkest feelings with a complete rando. I wanted to work through my problems on my own.

Mid-way through college, I knew that I could no longer avoid my problems. More so, I realized that I needed the assistance of a mental health professional.

After years of avoidance, I signed up for my first therapy session in June of 2017. While I had a lot of optimism on what therapy would entail, I was also terrified.

Could I be vulnerable enough to discuss my problems openly? How would I talk about my problems? What would my therapist be like?

These questions plagued me leading up to my first therapy session.

If you are in a similar position and are scared because you don’t know what to expect from therapy, please know those feelings are completely valid and normal. This is why I want to share five things I wish I would have known before going to therapy for the first time.

Five Things to Know if You’re Going to Therapy for the First Time:

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#1 Going to therapy with a new therapist may seem like an awkward first date.

During your very first therapy session, your therapist will most likely ask you a series of introductory questions. For example, they might ask you to talk about your job and your family history. As this occurs, you may feel like you are on a first date with someone rather than seeing a professional.

Despite the awkwardness, this first session is important.

The initial session is the best way for you and your therapist to be introduced to each other and get a feel for whether you two will be able to work together.

#2 Talking about your issues is a skill that comes with time.

I think there’s a misconception that talking about your mental illnesses is easy. I do not believe that one bit.

Talking about yourself and your problems is a type of skill – one that does not come easily.

If you feel like you have thoughts that you are not conveying correctly during your first few sessions, please do not be hard on yourself. With each session, you will get better at expressing yourself authentically and genuinely.

It may just take you some time, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Related: Tips for Talking in Therapy

#3 Your therapist may challenge your long-standing beliefs, which isn’t bad.

I had gone into therapy with the belief that I had depression. My therapist challenged and corrected this view when he told me that he thought I was struggling with anxiety instead.

A few weeks after his diagnosis, my therapist challenged me again in another meaningful way. He called into question my flowery language and told me that I needed to honour my honesty.

If your therapist questions or confronts you, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Should your therapist or counselor respectfully and responsibly call you out, reflect on why that may be the case.

Chances are you are in therapy because of a bad behavior or to seek out information about yourself. In those moments of confrontation, you can learn so much about yourself and grow exponentially.

Related: Accountability in Therapy

#4 You may not completely like or get along with your first therapist, which is okay.

If you find yourself in a situation where you and your first therapist are not on the same page, please know that’s not abnormal.

While there were times that my therapist rightfully called me out, there were other times where I felt like he could have been more gentle with my sensitivities.

You may have a similar experience, or you may realize that you and your first therapist don’t get along for whatever reason.

If that should happen, please don’t be discouraged.

You have to talk with different professionals to know what a good fit for you will be.

If anything, should your first therapist not be your favourite, you will at least know what to avoid when seeking out help in the future.

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#5 You should be proud of yourself for going to therapy and taking an important step in your mental health journey.

Therapy can be extremely beneficial for you. However, that doesn’t mean going to therapy is fun or a good time.

Going to therapy and actively working on your issues is tough work. Please don’t ever diminish that work or yourself.

In going to therapy, you are taking a brave step towards improving your mental health and mental wellness. That type of commitment deserves to be commended.

And I hope that you can find it in yourself to be proud for being strong enough to seek out help.

Closing Thoughts

You can never fully prepare for your first experience with therapy. The only way to know if it will work for you is to go in and try it out.

No matter what, trust your gut when it comes to your interactions with your new therapist.

You will know whether or not it’s a good fit. And if it’s not, that doesn’t mean you can’t get better. It just means there’s a different and more awesome treatment out there for you.

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Hi everyone! My name is Matthew. I have struggled with anxiety and depression since I was in middle school. I have been trying my best to learn how to cope with my mental illnesses for years. I am still very much learning how to deal with my mental health and live a life of happiness. However, I have found ways to help me feel better, such as going to therapy and writing. Otherwise, I am pretty much a couch potato at heart who loves sitcoms, video games and professional wrestling. I am excited to be a part of Libero!


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