What should I expect during my initial therapy or counseling session?

Are you considering therapy but unsure of what to expect in your first session? Many individuals feel apprehensive about their initial therapy or counseling session, wondering what will happen and how the therapist will approach the session. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the typical timeline and activities of a first therapy session, provide insights from therapists themselves, and offer tips on what you can do after your session. By understanding what to expect, you can approach your first therapy session with confidence and an open mind.

Understanding the First Therapy Session

The Importance of the First Session

The first therapy session is a crucial step towards improving your mental health and well-being. It serves as an opportunity for you to establish a connection with your therapist and begin the therapeutic process. During this session, you and your therapist will explore your reasons for seeking therapy, discuss your goals, and lay the groundwork for future sessions. It is natural to feel a mix of emotions, including excitement, nervousness, and vulnerability, but remember that your therapist is there to support you throughout the process.

A Timeline of Your First Therapy Session

1. Waiting

Upon arriving at the therapist’s office, you will typically check in with a receptionist and fill out initial paperwork. Afterward, you will wait for your therapist to bring you back for your session. This waiting period is similar to waiting for any other healthcare appointment.

2. Introductions

The first part of your therapy session will involve getting to know your therapist and building a personal connection. Your therapist wants to establish a safe and comfortable environment, so they may engage in small talk to help you feel at ease. This initial conversation allows both you and your therapist to get a sense of each other’s communication styles and interests.

3. Establishing Needs

Your therapist will inquire about your reasons for seeking therapy and the specific needs or issues you would like to address. They may ask about your past experiences with managing your mental health and what has worked or not worked for you in the past. This information helps your therapist understand how best to assist you and tailor the treatment to your unique situation.

4. Asking Questions

To gain a deeper understanding of your needs, your therapist may ask a series of questions. These questions could cover topics such as your previous therapy experiences, your symptoms, any mental health issues in your family history, your home life, and your goals for therapy. Answering these questions provides your therapist with valuable insights into your background and helps guide the therapeutic process.

5. Asking Your Own Questions

In addition to answering your therapist’s questions, it is essential to ask questions of your own. Before your session, take some time to reflect on any concerns or worries you have about treatment. You can ask your therapist about confidentiality, their experience with your specific mental health issues, or what you can do between sessions to support your progress. Asking questions helps you gain clarity and ensures that you are comfortable with your therapist’s approach.

What Should I Do After My First Therapy Session?

After your initial therapy session, it is essential to check in with yourself and reflect on your experience. Consider how you felt during the session and whether you believe you could build a long-term therapeutic relationship with your therapist. Keep in mind that therapy is an individualized process, and not every therapist will be the right fit for you. If you feel uncomfortable or if the therapist’s approach does not align with your needs, it is okay to explore other options.

Additionally, your therapist may provide you with some homework or suggestions for activities to do between sessions. This could include journaling, reading specific materials, or practicing certain techniques. Engaging in these activities can contribute to your progress and help you make the most of your therapy journey.


Attending your first therapy session can feel both exciting and nerve-wracking. However, by understanding what typically happens during this session, you can approach it with confidence and open-mindedness. Remember that your therapist is there to support you and guide you through your mental health journey. If you establish a positive connection and feel comfortable with your therapist, you are on the right path towards growth and healing.

If you are ready to take the first step towards better mental health, consider reaching out to a licensed therapist in your area. They can provide the guidance and support you need on your journey to well-being. Call us today at 833-820-2922.