YOUR FIRST SESSION - WHAT TO EXPECT
Your First Therapy Session – What to Expect
Attending your first therapy session, or your first session with a new therapist, is a bit nerve-wracking for most people, so here’s roughly what’s going to happen.
First, we’ll get the paperwork done
I have a two-page Therapy Agreement for you to read, covering things like confidentiality, fees, cancellation policy, confidentiality etc (most of the content is on this site). I can email the agreement to you prior to the first session if you want to read it ahead of time.
You’ll need to complete your name and contact information, plus details of an emergency contact person and sign the agreement.
I’ll give you a copy to take with you.
Then we’ll get into it
I aim to be helpful right from the first session. I won’t spend a long time collecting personal and family history and you only need to tell me what you think I need to know to help.
You can tell me why you’ve come to therapy; what’s the situation or issue you need support with, and what your goal is for therapy (if you have one, you needn’t).
I won’t let you talk for too long though. Therapy with me is not just you talking and me saying “hmmm” and “how do you feel about that” for the whole 50 minutes (although I will probably say those things sometimes).
I’ll probably ask you questions to get a few more details, if needed, then we’ll pick a specific focus for our work that session (it might be the goal you came with, or something we discover in conversation).
Then we’ll start exploring, unpacking and unfolding the issue at hand. The way we do this will vary depending on the issue, how it presents itself, and what you feel comfortable with. Sometimes spending time attending to feeling states will be best. Other times it might be something active in movement. Or a conversation between inner parts. Or something else – every session is different.
Getting consent about how we work together is important so I’ll always suggest options for how to work with an issue, share the pros and cons of each option as I see them, and we can decide together how to proceed.
We’ll move at a pace and in a direction that is good for you, as decided by you.
Integration and Homework
Approximately the last ten minutes of the session will be about integrating what you discovered in the exploration and checking back with how this helps with the original goal or focus.
If anything emotionally big has come up in the session, we’ll also spend this last part of the session making sure you feel grounded and well to go into the rest of your day.
If you want homework or some kind of integration activity to do out of the session, we can create something together.
I don’t routinely hand out homework but I’m good at co-creating ideas for grounding the deep insights from sessions into practical actions for everyday life.
Paying and Booking
After the 50 minutes is up, you then pay for the session (unless you paid ahead of time) and book another session if you want one.
Some people have a standing booking for the same day and time each week or fortnight, others prefer to book one session at a time.
Questions and feedback
At any time you are welcome to ask me questions about our work together, my thinking, why I suggest certain strategies or directions for work etc.
You are also welcome to complain or give me constructive feedback about what is or isn’t working for you in sessions. Therapy is a collaborative process and I’ll love to hear how you think our sessions can be more effective for you, and I won’t get hurt feelings!
Therapy is a collaborative process and I’ll love to hear how you think our sessions can be more effective for you, and I won’t get hurt feelings!
Trust takes time
Sometimes people think going to therapy means you have to tell the therapist your deepest secrets right from the start. Nothing could be further from the truth. Therapists shouldn’t be trusted just because they are therapists – they have to earn it.
Therapists shouldn’t be trusted just because they are therapists – we have to earn it.
Like any relationship, trust takes time to develop in the therapeutic relationship. So respect your own pace and only share with me what you feel safe enough to share. You might feel like you want quick progress, but pushing yourself past your own boundaries in an attempt to go fast, actually means the work will take longer.
Therapy is a bit of a paradoxical space when it comes to the concept of safety and comfort.
Ideally, it’s a space where you feel safe enough to be outside your comfort zone.
Therapy is not a space to just get comfy (although some sessions might be just that), it’s a place to grow, but to do it safely and in your own time.