What to Expect When You Start Therapy

Dahlia Mayerson
December 15, 2021

Congratulations. You’ve taken an essential step towards self-improvement by choosing a counselor for your first therapy session. Seeking help is an excellent show of strength, but it’s understandable if you feel hesitant about the process, especially if it’s your first time.

Read below to see what to expect from therapy.

What to expect from your first session of therapy.

After you have had your initial phone consultation and have determined your new therapist to be a good fit, you will set up your first appointment. You might be feeling nervous, anxious, and unsure of what to expect. Do not worry — the first session will be a safe, supportive time to share about different aspects of your life. This feeling is normal.

Your new therapist will be building a context of your life so that they can best understand and support you. They will likely ask you about your childhood, your parents and siblings, where you grew up, what your school experience was like, your social supports, romantic relationships, your career, and any goals you have.

Try your best to be as open as possible — the more they know about you, the more they can thoughtfully and authentically help you. Do not feel pressure to share every facet of your life in the first session; there’s no rush. Over time, as you build a stronger bond with your therapist, you will find that information being shared naturally.

Do your best to get relaxed and share as much as you comfortably can!

What to expect after your first month of therapy.

After the first month, your therapist should have a pretty solid idea of your history and what your goals are. Your therapist should have a plan for addressing your needs and should challenge you a bit more after the first month.

You are still working to build trust and rapport, but after the first month, the introductory phase of the work will start to evolve into deeper work.

An effective therapist should help you see things from different perspectives by challenging you. Even if it is hard to hear, this may be something to start looking out for after one month of therapy.

Be prepared to be more open at this point, as you should feel trust and safety within the therapeutic relationship. If you don’t, it is still okay at this point to reassess and find a therapist who is a better fit.

What happens next?

Relationships between therapists and clients can last weeks, months, or even years. We’ve seen clients spend each session targeting one specific issue over several years. At the same time, we’ve also seen clients use therapy as a monthly safe space to release their emotions.

Therapy is a space tailored specifically to your needs.

Still, it is important to note that there is no prescribed timeline or requirement to remain in therapy. Allow yourself to be open to what is suitable for your journey of self-improvement.

Therapy can be transformative and illuminating, and it can also be an emotional confrontation. It is okay to feel both positive and negative about sessions.

Often, the hard conversations where you allow yourself to be fully vulnerable will be the ones that propel you forward in growth. Therapy is personal, subjective and can genuinely change your life if you allow it to.

How do I find a therapist?

If you feel like you are ready to start, please reach out to the care coordinator team at Resilience Lab, and they will connect you to great therapists who are prepared to be there for you.  Connect with us by emailing CareCoordinator@resiliencelab.us

Looking for more from Dahlia Mayerson, LMSW? Check out her last post on Attachment Styles. The most diverse collective of New York-based therapists are sharing their insights and offer advice covering a wide range of topics here in the Thought Lab

Get started with therapy today.

Our team can help you find the right therapist.