You will be nervous when you are about to start your first therapy session. You are seated in front of or beside this stranger who has agreed to help you understand what has been troubling your mind, filling you with hope that you will, in the end, leave feeling lighter and happier.
Your role in this play is to talk.
Where do you start from? How do you know what to say? Some of us cannot even hold a conversation for more than fifteen minutes with our friends these days so for how long are we going to be able to speak with this person who is a stranger? Some of my clients have told me while we were scheduling our first session that they were not sure if they would even feel comfortable enough to open up. That is completely understandable. You have to ask yourself if you are ready trust this person with private and vulnerable parts of your life.
Gerald Corey in his book ‘Theory and Practice of Counselling and Psychotherapy’ defines and explains accurately what this discussion between a therapist and their client is and what it aims to achieve:
Psychotherapy is a process of engagement between two people, both of whom are bound to change through the therapeutic venture. At its best, this is a collaborative process that involves both the therapist and the client in co-constructing solutions to concerns.
Therapists are not in business to change clients, to give them quick advice, or to solve their problems for them. Instead, counselors facilitate healing through a process of genuine dialogue with their clients.
A genuine dialogue that seeks to help the client form his own understanding of self, to take responsibility for his actions and how it shapes his reality and develop healthy coping skills that are tied to his values and beliefs.
When you begin to speak with your therapist, you will share with them stories about you. Most of it will be about the parts of your life that have brought you grief. During this process of gently unburdening yourself, you and your therapist will explore some of these situations deeply to reconstruct thinking patterns and behaviors, and develop better ways of coping with challenges.
After your first session, you have to assess how you feel about the session and the therapist because it will help decide if you wish to keep working with them. Your relationship with your therapist is a very important part of the therapeutic venture. The benefits of therapy cannot be reaped if you do not like the individual you will be working with. How will you listen to their helpful comments or open up to them if you cannot stand them or do you not feel safe in their presence? For a better idea on choosing the right therapist for you, read HERE.
My words can only give you a fair idea of what to expect during your first therapy session. There is a lot more that goes into making every session successful. It is the job of the therapist with her knowledge and skills to utilize the information provided by her clients help them understand themselves better and find the inner peace that they are searching for.
As for you, the client, your job is to be discerning about who you choose to work with and when you do find them, to be ready to have a truly honest and open conversation.