What to expect in your first therapy session
A therapy session is an interaction between the therapist and the client. That doesn’t mean the therapist and you’ll have a long talk. The length of therapy is determined by your problem as well as your motivation to work on it. You may be concerned about what will occur during the first session. So, let us see what the first therapy session consists of.
The Initial Session
- Your first session is usually spent getting to know each other. Through this session, the therapist builds a trusting relationship with you. Also, the therapist, along with you, sets a worthy, realistic goal to be achieved at the end of therapy (the most general goal is to relieve psychological distress).
- No therapist will make you state the problem first. Rather they attempt to establish a close bond with you. You don’t have to be anxious. Feel free to talk to the therapist. They can understand you.
- To begin, the therapist would establish a rapport with you. Feel free to discuss anything you like at this time, whether it’s about a movie, the current news, an IPL match or anything else of your interest.
- The therapist would give information about the clinic, policies, nature, fees, appointments, duration of sessions, confidentiality, theoretical orientation, and so on. Altogether, a therapeutic contract is established between you and the therapist.
- The therapist would also set limits, e.g., you are not supposed to drink or smoke while undertaking therapy, you are not supposed to damage office properties, you are not free to arbitrarily break the appointments, etc.
- The first session may make you feel emotionally drained. And you may point out the present problem and its symptoms and what makes you come to the therapist.
- Future visits would be more therapeutic in nature, where you may explore your problem, symptoms or past trauma mentioned in the first session.
The therapist could ask you some specific questions during the first session, such as;
- The therapist would enquire about your personal information (name, age, education, and occupation) and background (childhood, marriage, menstruation and so on).
- What led you to seek therapy?
- What are the current signs and symptoms?
- Is there a family history of any form of mental illness?
- Have you ever gone to therapy before? If yes, where? and when?
- Do you experience suicidal thoughts?
- What do you expect to gain from therapy?
- Do you have any questions to ask me regarding the therapy?
Moreover, if you have any queries or doubts regarding the therapy, you may ask the therapist before progressing to future sessions. Such as;
- How could you ensure confidentiality?
- Do you have any prior experience with specific case treatment?
- What are the plans for treatment?
- What would be the duration of each session?
- How many sessions would it take to reduce my problem?
The Therapy Techniques
The therapist will be proficient in a variety of treatments. As a result, whether or not to use this technique on you is entirely up to the therapist. The strategy employed is determined by your personality and the severity of the situation. Knowing what technique the therapist uses will help you foresee what will occur throughout the session. Among, the most common form of techniques are:
- Psychoanalysis & Psychodynamic Therapy: focuses on your unfulfilled desires in childhood and unresolved childhood fears that lead to intrapsychic conflict.
- Behaviour Therapy: focuses on your faulty learning of behaviour and cognition.
- Cognitive Therapy: focuses on your negative automatic thoughts and the underlying cognitive distortions.
- Existential Therapy: focuses on free will, self-determination and the search for meaning in life.
- Client-centred therapy: focuses on your perception of the present circumstances and brings up your own solution for the problem with the assistance of the therapist.
Does the initial session determine the success of the therapy?
successful therapy is mainly determined by the following;
- Therapist-client relationship: Through open and honest conversation, you and the therapist form an emotional bond. If it has been several sessions and you are not feeling any better, tell your therapist. They appreciate your transparency.
- By setting and understanding the goal: Your problems should be sorted into goals with specified outcomes, along with your therapist. Some therapists might use more formal assessments for goals such as in the CBT technique. Seek the therapist if you feel overwhelmed by thoughts and feelings that block you from reaching the goal.
- Commitment to the therapeutic process: There will be times when you wish you could cancel your appointment and never return. Change is difficult, and sometimes some parts of you resist your goal. Never lose your commitment towards the therapy. Trust the process and therapist to become a better functioning person.
Many mental health professionals think that the rapport between a therapist and a client is more important than the therapist’s experience and background. As a result, the initial session builds the foundation for making your therapy successful. Robert Biswas Diener, a psychologist and writer, states that “once you start making the effort to ‘wake yourself up’- that is being more mindful in your activities- you suddenly start appreciating your life a lot more”.
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