Things I Learned During My First Therapy Sessions
What do you think of when you imagine a therapy session? Do you picture lying down on a couch and having an older man or woman ask you how things made you feel? I did.
My first impression of therapy was much different from the ones you see in movies. After months of talking myself into going, I had an appointment with a 20-something therapist who was smart and cool and made me feel instantly comfortable. So comfortable, in fact, that I continued going back for six months.
During my first session and my follow-up appointments, I learned a few more things about therapy that differed from my expectations. As with all things mental health, I figured that sharing my experience would help open the conversation for those going through the same want to explore this opportunity that I was. Here are four things I learned before and during my first therapy session:
It’s okay to discuss it with others
Therapy is a lot more common than you expect but I was terrified to tell anyone that I had even been considering it as an option. Truth be told I never would have made the call for my first appointment without the help of my friend. I was so afraid of what it would be like. After opening up to a friend about wanting to go, she confided in me about her experience with therapy. She walked me through a step-by-step of what an appointment would be like and even came with me to make the phone call to book my appointment.
It’s nice to have an impartial person to listen
I was extremely nervous to talk to a complete stranger about my life but quickly learned that it is actually great to have an impartial person look in on your life. Talking to a professional about what was going on proved to be quite different than venting to a friend. During my time in therapy, a lot of it revolved around me talking through my problems and my therapist asking questions that helped me work through what I was feeling. I never felt judged or like my choices were wrong. This approach to my problems allowed me to see situations in new ways on my own and allowed me the opportunity to gain clarity on things I was working through.
The first meeting is important – and sometimes the hardest
I was incredibly anxious before my first appointment. I am a very open person but have often struggled with expressing certain feelings. Luckily, I felt quite connected to my therapist right away but it was still difficult to open up about certain things I had been putting off for ages. As soon as I sat down and started explaining a little bit about myself, I cried. Crying was the one thing I did not want to do in the session but I was quickly reminded that it was very normal. The good thing about crossing that bridge as fast as I did allowed me to be more open and comfortable with the situation. Leading me to be more open for future conversations.
Check-ins are important, even when you’re feeling good
For the first few months, I had a standing appointment for every two weeks. I have an all-or-nothing personality type, so I sometimes found it hard to make myself go when I didn’t feel like I had a problem to deal with. But after a while I realized that it is just as important to continue your sessions even when things feel like they are going great. In therapy, just like life, it is important to celebrate the wins as much as it is to acknowledge the downs.