Therapy is a lot of things but it isn’t a reason to be ashamed. I know, I was in cognitive behavioral therapy for many months. Let’s talk real here if your first therapy appointment is coming up and you’re a little on edge about it or if you’re considering seeing a therapist.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by BetterHelp.
Get over yourself
Rest assured that all written content is from me Okay it’s harsh but it has to be said. If you’re feeling like I was then you’re feeling shame about seeing a therapist. There’s this stigma many of us have grown up with that I hope the next generation won’t have to bear any longer.
Seeking help isn’t a sign of weakness, especially when it’s a mental health expert that you go to. Instead, it’s the smart choice.
This professional has the proper education and hands-on experience to help you. Who better to go to?
The first therapy appointment is a whole lot of new
If you’re going to therapy for anxiety or depression, you’ve likely already shut down emotionally by this point. I know I had. Rarely did I leave home and I sure as heck wasn’t meeting new people, especially someone who I thought would analyze me.
So I’m not going to beat around the bush here – there’s probably going to be a sensory overload from what’s been your normal for some time now.
To prepare for the new environment you’ll be entering into at your first therapy session, which likely will occur in a private office, I urge you to have quite time before the appointment when the day arrives.
Meditation may help to ease your mind before heading to the therapist’s location. I remember what I did was listen to an audio that took me from the top of my head to my toes, guiding me through thoughts of releasing negative energy from each part of my body.
As I listened and followed the audio instructions, I was laying down on my bed, alone in the quiet room. By the end of the activity, which took about half an hour, I was calm mentally and physically.
Although the tension returned when I met the therapist, at least I had experienced a time of peace that I needed. You likely need that too on this important day.
With a therapist, it’s private
What you talk about at the first therapy appointment and beyond stays in that room you’re in together. On the first day, the psychologist will give you a confidentiality agreement to sign.
Privacy laws are in place to protect your personal health info, including details about your mental health. The papers you sign on day one will explain exactly how the therapist will handle your personal information and maintain confidentiality with what you two discuss during your hour or so together.
Please note there are limited instances when this doctor can disclose your private information without your consent, such as when you are a threat to yourself or someone else. These are clearly outlined in the paperwork and a good mental health professional will explain everything to you.
If any details of the agreement are not clear, please speak up and ask. It’s really hard to do with a stranger but having answers is much better than wondering about unknowns over and over.
Don’t plan anything else that first day
Emotionally exhausted is how I felt after the initial session. That appointment had been on my mind for a long time and I’d been dreading it, scared of the unknown.
Now that it had happened, I’d seen the office, the therapist in the office, the first question or two had been answered, and I was mentally drained. That makes sense given how much emotion came out of me.
I remember going back to where I was staying and I sat, stretched out my legs, and did a whole lot of nothing. Thankfully I had people around me who had made sure that meeting was the only thing I had to do that day. Not that I was doing much lately but you know what I mean.
So just go home when that first therapy appointment is over and do your best to relax. Even take a nap if you can after, if you can unwind a bit from the stress of the day.
It gets easier after the first therapy appointment
After the first therapy appointment, you know what to expect for location and therapist. You’ll probably have a set day and time you meet too; now you can get comfortable with a schedule.
Opening up gets easier too as you build a relationship with your therapist. And knowing that information stays within the wall of the office is comforting too.
I also found it helped to remind myself that this dr. wasn’t judging me. Instead, listening and guiding me through difficult thoughts was her role.
And she was amazing, by the way. To find out more about how to choose a therapist or get other answers to therapy questions you may have, check out these BetterHelp articles.
Healing can begin
That initial day is the start of your healing. Well actually the first step was making the appointment, as it shows you want to get help.
Only once you admit that and reach out can you start to move forward. And you’re in good hands with a mental health specialist. They do this for a living!
While healing is slow, it is happening and don’t forget it. Some days may feel like you’re moving backward or not moving at all in your progress, please don’t give up. You’ve already done one of the hardest things by going to a therapist and starting to open up on day one.
All the best in physical and mental health is what I wish for you. Sending you strength for your first therapy appointment; you WILL get through this.