Why I’m Getting Anxious On My First Therapy Session?

First therapy session

Most people, even the elders, and professionals become nervous and anxious before they meet their therapists or mental health professionals for the first time. In fact, people who are suffering from mental health problems avoid a personal therapy appointment because of the required presence of a stranger.

Feeling Anxious During The First Therapy Session

What Happens On The First Appointment?

According to Robert Allison, MA, LPC “Anxiety sees too many things as threats, it sees threats too easily. As a result, the fight or flight response is triggered too often and too easily.” It’s normal for people who will undergo their first therapy appointment to feel tense before it starts. They struggle with difficult emotions and they know there isn’t a quick fix for their mental health issues so the initial session would only be the first of many. Their own thoughts are increasing their stress and anxiety in the waiting room.

A woman with anxiety issues having her therapy with a professionalSource: psychotherapycanada.com

Therapists, on the other hand, are aware of this and are doing their best to bring down barriers between them and their patients during the first session. Most probably, you are there but already you feel like backing out from a paid and scheduled therapy. Don’t give up. Don’t succumb to the feeling of pressure and negative thoughts. Don’t feel nervous that you’ll be judged – you won’t, if you have chosen the right therapist.

What To Expect in First Therapy Sessions

a woman during a professional counseling sessionSource: psychologyjobs.com

Your first visit is usually the hardest. Expect to be asked personal questions (that’s the protocol for new patients). This is done by the therapist so that he can come up with a suitable plan to manage your specific concerns and how to help in reducing symptoms that you may have. Don’t worry – this is totally normal when you’re starting therapy. Of course, the initial paperwork is drawn during your first counseling session, wherein all information regarding your mental illness or other mental health problems is recorded. Most therapists will give you realistic expectations about your treatment.

In the next session, your chosen therapist or mental health professional will encourage you to do a lot of talking in the treatment, and the therapist will expect you to answer everything truthfully, if not exhaustively. This will be for your own well being so honesty is important throughout the whole process.

Expect your therapist to delve into your family history, your mental illness, and the root cause of why you are starting therapy. Is it mainly for improved mental health or is it that you want to ask your therapist about coping strategies for certain life challenges? This may make you feel uncomfortable, especially during the first session. But it’s okay if you don’t feel like disclosing everything about yourself. Julie Simon, PsyD once stated that “While therapy can be challenging, it can also be the catalyst that allows you to live a more fulfilled and peaceful life.” Eventually, you have to decide to cooperate with your therapist. After all, successful therapy entails engaging in a two-way street approach.

The first session is an ice-breaker. Before, patients were made to lie on a divan and stare at the ceiling during their first counseling session. Now, you will instead be made to sit on a comfortable couch. The room will be relaxing, as it is designed to give the appearance and vibe of a simple living room instead of a typical doctor’s office. The modern therapist’s office should make your first appointment encouraging.

What To Do For Your First Therapy Sessions

A man and woman discussing therapySource: kylaclinicalpsychologist.co.za

Keep in mind that you are probably not the first patient of your therapist who came to seek help for your mental health. He or she has heard a lot of stories from different people. He or she is definitely not there to listen to you and then judge you afterward. Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC often says, “A good therapist should be open and willing to understand your concerns. If your therapist doesn’t take your concerns seriously or is unwilling to accept feedback, then it’s probably in your best interest to consult with another therapist about it.” Yes, you can always change therapists if you wish – for the sake of your mental health.

Here’s what you should do: For a while, try picturing how a typical therapy session would look like so you wouldn’t get surprised of what goes on after the therapist welcomes you in the room. This may shake off your anxiety as you would come to the session with an idea of what exactly would happen.

Before the session, you can also remind yourself of the more in-depth details (certain personal relationships, history, painful memories) that you are not yet comfortable discussing but always be prepared to tell only the truth about the reason why you are seeking therapy and counseling. Convince yourself not to mask every and all past experiences that will be significant to your therapist helping you.

This way, you can also brush off all the false thoughts that ‘therapists would make you revisit your painful memories right away during the first meeting.’

The most important thing for you to think about to ease your anxiety is that everything you will talk about with your therapist is kept confidential.

First Therapeutic Session

It’s okay to be skeptical at first. Therapists are also doing their best to make you feel the most comfortable during each session. The immediate goal of every meeting is for you to open up and start moving towards your healing. Moreover, a good therapist knows the ethics and the best techniques to build rapport right before the initial meeting concludes.


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