What to expect when starting therapy

What to expect when starting therapy 

Whether you are new to therapy or not it can be nerve-wracking just thinking about the idea of starting therapy. Thoughts of “What if I don’t like the therapist or they don’t like me?”, “Is this even going to help me?”, “What do I even say?” or, “I had such a bad experience with the last therapist what if this happens again?”. Know this – you are not alone. These are common thoughts and questions for many people who are just starting their journey in therapy. To help ease some of these concerns here are a few things you can expect. 



No two therapists are alike

Before you set foot in a therapy office do some research on what you are looking for in a therapist. Not all therapists will be able to provide you with the services you are needing based on your symptoms. Similar to doctors; therapists may specialize in specific areas of treatment that may or may not align with your needs. Doing some research in advance could end up saving you lots of time and money in the long run. Ask if the therapists you are interested in seeing offer a free 10–15 minute consultation. This would be a great way to ask any questions or concerns you may have prior to setting up the first appointment. 


Just like a doctor’s office, expect to complete some forms prior to your initial session. Depending on the therapist will depend on what this looks like, but most therapists will send electronic copies of the necessary forms needed to legally see you. In addition, they may also send you questionnaires, assessments and request other historical medical information.  Do yourself a favor and complete these documents prior to your session. This will allow you more time in the initial session with the therapist and could even prevent you from having to reschedule. 

Setting the foundation 

The first session of therapy will always look slightly different from the remainder of your sessions. During the first 15 minutes of session most therapists will talk you through what I like to call “housekeeping”. They will review with you much of what is covered in the documents you signed prior to session.  This could range from consent, confidentiality, practice policies, to insurance, payment and even scheduling. The remainder of the session will be focused on what has brought you into therapy and what you are hoping to gain from your time with the therapist. Depending on timing, you may even be setting goals with the therapist which will then help guide the direction of your future sessions. 


Today is the day! Your first session with a new therapist, now what? Before even scheduling your first appointment you’ve probably felt a lot of different emotions about therapy. Expect these same emotions, and possibly more, to show up when you go into your first session. This is normal, and it’s OK. Upon meeting the therapist, if you are feeling comfortable enough, express some of these emotions. As you continue to build a relationship with your therapist many of these emotions will dissipate and others will arise. Therapy is hard work and can be emotionally draining. Expect to have emotions that range in nature as you progress through the work you are focusing on. It’s not uncommon for people to feel “worse” initially before they feel better. Part of this is because you are unearthing thoughts and emotions that are challenging or may not have faced before so it will feel uncomfortable at times. 

No two therapists are alike

Yes, you read that correctly, and no I promise I’m not repeating myself. This is important and one of the aspects of therapy many people may not always consider and can even prevent people from seeking therapy again in the future. No two therapists are alike and there are reasons for this. The obvious one, we are human just like you. We come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities and sometimes those personalities may not align with yours. This is ok! After a few sessions, if you aren’t feeling a connecting with your therapist find a new one. Some people have had unfavorable therapists for a variety of reasons, and this turns them off from finding a new therapist. Know that you may not find the right fit at first, but there are therapists that could absolutely be the right fit and help you accomplish what you are looking for. 

If you are interested in starting therapy services or learning more about our team, please check us out! We are here for you in Fuquay-Varina, Raleigh, Wake Forest and online throughout North Carolina.