What to expect from your first appointment
You are considering seeing a psychologist for the first time, but feel nervous because you don’t know what to expect? This is a common reaction. This will help you get a better grasp of what to expect from a typical first appointment with a psychologist.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
Your psychologist wants to better understand you and how the issues you are struggling with are affecting your well-being. To this end, one important goal of the initial appointment is to allow the psychologist to get a general idea of who you are and what stage of life you are in at the moment. Are you a student struggling with your academic work or are you in a job that is not bringing the expected satisfaction?
Afterwards, we will delve more into the main struggled that brought you to reach out for external help at this stage in your life. The impact that this situation is having on you physically and emotionally will be explored, as will the effect this situation may be having on your ability to function at school, at work, in your relationships or simply how it may be impacting your ability to enjoy life.
It’s okay to not disclose everything in this first session. Time is limited. As well, you may not feel comfortable talking about something with your psychologist until you feel at ease to do so and that you can trust your psychologist with the information. Please know that your therapist is open to hearing all that you have to say and will not judge you.
GETTING TO KNOW YOUR PSYCHOLOGIST
As you share information with your psychologist, you should also be paying attention to how you feel with this therapist. Are you feeling comfortable enough? Understood? Respected?
Not every therapist will be the perfect fit for you. Do give yourself a few sessions with the psychologist to get a clear idea if this is someone that you can work with. If there is something in the process or in the interaction that you feel uncomfortable with, that does not meet your expectations or if you are having some doubts, discuss it openly with your therapist. A good therapist will always be open to these discussions and adjustments can often be made to adapt to your needs.
WHAT’S EXPECTED OF YOU TO GET THE MOST OUT OF THIS APPOINTMENT
When you receive your appointment confirmation by e-mail, you will have received a questionnaire. Fill it out. It has a dual function. It will help you to prepare what you want to say during your session and allow you to structure how you want to explain the struggles you are having. As well, giving this information to your psychologist will allow her to get to know you faster.
The more active a role you will play in your therapy, the more you are likely going to get out of this process. This applies not just to the first appointment, but throughout your entire therapeutic journey.
Starting a therapeutic journey and opening up to someone about things that you have kept to yourself can make you feel uncomfortable and bring on strong emotions. Welcome these feelings. Usually, people say they feel relief after unburdening themselves and allowing these feelings to come out.
Remember that you are the expert when it comes to you and your problems. Your therapist can’t read your mind! Allow yourself to be open as much as possible. The more you will allow yourself to be open, the better your psychologist may be able to help you. Keep in mind that this is a safe and confidential space.
WHAT NOT TO EXPECT
Therapy is not an instant fix. There is no magic solution or tool that will solve all your issues. Therapy is a process, an investment in yourself and therefore will require time and effort on your part. The more you will engage in your own therapy, however, the more you may get out of it.
Don’t expect your psychologist to do all the work! It is a collaborative process. You bring your expertise of yourself and your therapist will bring their expertise and experience. Spend time between your appointments to reflect on the discussions that were had, to observe your thoughts, your feelings and your reactions, and to try out something new. Your therapist will encourage you to do so, but can’t do this work for you.
If you have further questions about what to expect when starting therapy, do contact me and I will gladly answer your questions.