You’ve decided to go to therapy. Now what? Embarking on the journey of therapy is a commendable and empowering decision. Whether you’re curious about therapy or actively seeking support, your first session can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Let’s guide you through what to expect during your initial therapy session, helping you feel more prepared and comfortable as you take this significant step toward mental well-being.
1. The Initial Contact
Typically in Malaysia, this is when you would reach out to the mental health centers/clinics to enquire about their services. During this interaction, you can share what kind of therapy you’re looking for – individual, couples, family or child – and discuss logistical details such as scheduling, fees, and any paperwork that needs to be completed. This is also an opportunity to briefly share your reasons for seeking therapy and you are free to ask some of your own questions though there may be a limitation as to how much assistance the client coordinator can provide you with.
2. Paperwork and Administrative Details
Upon arriving for your first session, you’ll likely be asked to complete some paperwork or if you’ve already been sent the paper digitally, you can send that over ahead of time or bring in a hard copy. This can include consent forms, a brief questionnaire about your mental health history, and policies regarding confidentiality. It’s essential to take your time with these documents and ask for clarification if needed.
3. Building Rapport aka Getting to Know Each Other
The first few minutes of your initial session will likely focus on building rapport with your therapist. This involves getting to know each other, discussing your goals for therapy, and establishing a sense of trust. Feel free to express any concerns or hesitations you may have—open communication is crucial from the start. If you’re feeling nervous, you can express that. In fact, it’s very normal to feel nervous about sitting in front of a stranger whom you’re about to share vulnerable information with.
4. Goal Setting
Your therapist will guide the conversation towards your expectations and goals for therapy. This is an opportunity to articulate what you hope to achieve, whether it’s managing stress, improving relationships, or addressing specific mental health concerns. Being honest and transparent about your needs helps your therapist tailor their approach to best support you. If you’re not sure about your goal, your therapist can help to clarify and refine it.
5. Exploring Your History and Present Concerns
During the first session, your therapist may inquire about your personal history, background, and any current challenges you’re facing. This exploration provides valuable context and helps your therapist gain a deeper understanding of your unique experiences.
6. Keeping Expectations Real
Therapy is a collaborative process, and change takes time. Your therapist will discuss realistic expectations for the therapeutic journey, addressing the fact that progress may be gradual. There may be a sense of urgency in you to want to ‘fix’ things or ‘get over’ your issues or ‘need a solution’, which is a normal thing that therapists encounter. Understanding that therapy is a process can help manage expectations and foster a sense of patience and commitment.
7. Confidentiality and Boundaries
Your therapist will explain the principles of confidentiality and the boundaries that guide the therapeutic relationship. This includes the limits to confidentiality, such as situations where harm to yourself or others is a concern. Understanding these boundaries is essential for establishing a secure and trusting therapeutic alliance.
And there you have it, a quick guide on what to expect in your first therapy session. Your first therapy session is a pivotal step towards personal growth and emotional well-being. By knowing what to expect and actively participating in the process, you can make the most out of this valuable opportunity for self-discovery and positive change. Remember that therapy is a collaborative journey, and your therapist is there to support and guide you along the way. Embrace the experience, be open to the process, and allow yourself the opportunity to thrive.
How has your experience with seeking therapy been? If you are ready to start therapy, reach out to us via Whatsapp or the Contact Us page.