I decided to attend my first therapy appointment in 2018 after months of unsuccessfully battling anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. At the time, I didn’t know what to expect, and in hindsight, I wish I would have done some research ahead of time. Although worth the price, sessions with a licensed therapist can get a bit pricey. So you want to do whatever you can to get the most out of your first therapy appointment and beyond.
1. To the extent that you can get to know your therapist ahead of time. Before even scheduling your first therapy appointment, conduct research to find someone who has experience working with your cluster of symptoms. I knew that I wanted to work with someone who looked like me. My therapist and I are both back women in our 30s who grew up in the South. In our sessions, I know that she’s helping me see through issues not only from the lens of a professional with years of education and treating people but also from her personal experiences. If you start off doing your research before selecting and making that first therapy appointment, you’re less likely to go through a couple of therapists before finding someone that works for you.
2. Once you schedule your appointment, you’ll likely receive intake paperwork to complete before your arrival. Take your time and fill these out completely with as much detail as possible. Return the paperwork to your therapist so that they can familiarize themselves a bit with you and your story before the appointment.
3. The days before your first therapy appointment, engage in all the activities that relax you. Although attending therapy is not a test, your body and mind may feel that way initially. When I first started treatment, I would be a ball of nervous energy before my appointments. In an attempt to combat that, I would treat myself to a little TLC the day prior. Eating healthy meals, working out, getting enough rest, and journaling was my go to’s.
4. This tip is quick and easy, get to your appointment at least 15 minutes early. Every minute of your appointment counts and the last thing you want to do is pay for the time that you’re not in session. You also don’t want to start your first appointment feeling hurried and frazzled.
5. Don’t be afraid to open up and leave it all in your session. Truth is the first therapy appointment will NOT diagnose, treat, and get you to 100 percent all within one hour. It’s more the therapist gaining an understanding of what led you to therapy, what you hope to achieve, and formulating a course of action to get you there. One of the biggest lessons to getting the most out of your first therapy appointment is NOT expecting a quick fix! Instead, expect the start of a deep dive to getting you to an overall healthier and better version of yourself mentally, emotionally, and as a result, physically!
Therapy has changed my life! I’ve gone from being anxious 100 percent of the time to the occasional worry at times, which seems reasonable. My depressive episodes are few and far between, and I haven’t had a panic attack in months! So if you’re thinking about it, do it! Make that first therapy appointment to assist you in creating a life you love! Make sure you let me know this post helped you s that I can be there to cheer you on!