first-therapy-appointment

“I need therapy, but I’m nervous about seeing a therapist.” This is a common dilemma, especially for people with anxiety disorder. Going to the therapist doesn’t have to be a stressful process. In fact, most of our clients at Heron Ridge Associates find therapy to be relaxing and comforting.

In this guide, we’ll help you reduce stress before your first therapy appointment so you can be ready for the experience.

What to Expect from Therapy – Forget What You’ve Seen on TV

Therapy appointments aren’t as rigid as they seem on television. They’re much more informal and comfortable. Think of it less like a doctor’s appointment and more like a conversation with a friend. Your therapist will listen to what you have to say, but he or she will also engage with you. You won’t be judged at any point in the process, and everything you say is kept confidential.

  • Everything happens at your pace. You will not be pressured to talk about anything you do not feel comfortable with. Your therapist may ask questions about unpleasant memories, but the goal is to help you heal. You remain in control of the process at all times.
  • The first appointment is a get-to-know-you stage. Your therapist will mostly try to gather information about why you came to therapy – your concerns, goals, past experiences, etc. This is mostly an ice breaker.
  • Your therapist will explain what to expect from therapy. After learning a bit about your situation, your therapist can explain how the weeks may progress. You can get a clear picture of how your therapy experiences will be moving forward, which will ease stress about future appointments.
  • Your therapist will answer any questions you have. If you’re nervous about what’s to come, say so. Explain what your concerns are, and ask any questions you have about therapy. Your therapist will gladly provide all the answers you need.
  • There are no right answers – just your answers. Many clients worry about ‘saying the right thing’ in therapy. There are no expectations for you to live up to. Speak openly and honestly about your thoughts, feelings and experiences. Your therapist will never judge or criticize you.

Other Ways to Reduce Stress before a Therapy Appointment

In the second half of this discussion, we will go over some stress reducing strategies you can use before your first therapy appointment. Check out Part 2 on the Heron Ridge Associates blog.

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