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Mental Health

Apr 23 2024

How to get the most out of your first therapy session

Going to therapy for the first time can feel a tad scary or weird, but it’s a big step towards improving your mental health. Much like studying for an exam or a job interview, preparing for your first therapy session can make a world of difference in your experience.

In this article, I’ll guide you through why you should prepare for your first therapy session, plus some tips on how to do it. Ready to make your first session as rewarding as possible? Let’s dive in.

Why is it important to prepare for your first therapy session? 

Many people find it difficult to seek therapy because of the various misconceptions and myths surrounding it, like therapy is for mad people and going to therapy means you’re weak. However, preparing for your first therapy session will help to demystify the process and prepare you for what to expect. 

Preparing will also help you identify the type of therapy you need, the kind of therapist you want, and the specific issues you wish to address, making your sessions more focused and goal-oriented. Besides, a therapy session usually ranges between 30 to 60 minutes, so getting ready in advance can make it easier to articulate your thoughts and feelings during the session. 

7 ways to prepare for your first therapy session

When you’re adequately prepared for your first therapy session, you’re more likely to be actively engaged in the therapy process, which can lead to a productive session with excellent outcomes. So, how do you set the stage for your first visit to therapy?

Find a therapist that best suits your needs

Having the right therapist is the most essential factor that determines how a therapy session will go, so take your time finding one. 

Choose a therapist who specializes in your specific needs. i.e., if you’re going to therapy to deal with grief or trauma, find a therapist who specializes in grief counselling. If you want a mental health assessment or diagnosis, look for a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist. 

You should also be able to speak with your therapist without fear of bias or judgment, so you may want to consider choosing a therapist who aligns with specific aspects of your identity. For instance, if your religious beliefs, gender, or sexual orientation are a big part of your identity, find a therapist who understands that.

Feel free to interview your potential therapist to decide if you’re a good fit. You can ask them questions about:

Most importantly, pay attention to the vibes you get from them. Do they make you feel safe or nervous? Do you like their personality? It’s totally acceptable to factor those in.

To simplify the process of finding a therapist, the app showcases a list of available therapists, highlighting their experience, areas of specialization, and pricing. That way, you can easily select a therapist who meets your needs and get started. 

Think of therapy as a two-way interview

Many people believe therapy is about pouring out all your problems and getting advice, but that’s not how therapy works. Therapy is more like a conversation where you and the therapist rub minds to understand your thoughts and feelings.

Besides, your therapist is meant to guide you through your challenges, not tell you what you do, so you have a say in the therapy process. You can ask questions; you can speak up about what works for you and what doesn’t; you can even let your therapist know if you’re not comfortable discussing a topic.

Make a list of topics to cover

Write down the things you’d like to talk about in therapy. These can include anything, like:

  • Information about your background
  • Something that’s been bothering you
  • Something exciting that happened to you recently
  • Things you’re curious about
  • Your life’s goals
  • Habits you’d like to change
  • Your relationship issues
  • Your fears
  • Your struggles at work
  • Your past experiences 
  • Things you enjoy

Writing these topics down in advance will make it easier to articulate your thoughts and feelings about them and dive into meaningful discussions without wasting time.

Be well-equipped for teletherapy

If you don’t have time to travel to a therapist’s office or live in a region where therapy services are unavailable, teletherapy (virtual or online therapy) is a great option for you.

To be well-equipped for teletherapy, make sure to have a quiet space to sit for your session. Therapy requires vulnerability and careful reflection—which can be challenging in the presence of family or friends who might overhear your discussions or interrupt you with noise. So, clear the room, turn off the TV, put your phone away, and give your therapist your full attention.

Also, ensure you have a stable internet connection. Interruptions due to poor internet connection issues can be frustrating for both you and your therapist, and it can affect the entire conversation.

Bring a journal with you and take notes

Taking notes during your session will help you capture important insights, advice, or homework from your therapist, and you can reflect on them after the session. This gives you the opportunity to revisit key points, clarify any concepts that might have been confusing, and infuse what you learned during therapy in your life.

Written notes also make it easier to track your progress in your mental health journey, as they can help you notice patterns in your thoughts and behaviors over time. Plus, your notes will help you prepare for future sessions—you already have a foundation to build upon with specific questions and points to discuss.

Have positive but realistic expectations

Many people think therapy is like magic: you pour out your problems, your therapist goes “abracadabra!” and boom, your problems vanish. But therapy is not a quick fix to any problem; it’s a journey that involves working through complex thoughts, emotions, and situations.

Having realistic expectations means accepting that although therapy works, it might take time to see the results you desire—and it definitely takes effort and patience. With this mindset, you’ll be able to stick with the process even when it gets tough. 

Understand that your therapist is not your friend

Although your therapist provides support, empathy, and guidance, their role is totally professional. Seeing them as a guide, not a buddy, will keep your discussions focused on improving your mental health. Also, recognizing and honouring that professional boundary will foster a productive and collaborative relationship where you get the right kind of help—based on what works and not just what sounds nice.


Preparing properly for your first therapy session lays the foundation for a wholesome experience in your mental health journey. But keep in mind that the path to improvement is a partnership between you and your therapist based on honesty and commitment.

Ready to take the first step to improving your mental well-being? Download the app, find a therapist, and begin your journey towards a healthier, happier you. 

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