Every therapist is different, and it can be challenging finding one that you really click with. But, there are a few general guidelines that could help make your therapy sessions more effective. Here are seven things you should know before your first therapy appointment:
1. Don't just go off of referrals
Did a friend or family member recommend their therapist to you? Before scheduling an appointment, find out if they specialize in what you're looking for help with. Even if you get a referral from a trusted source, that doesn't necessarily mean this therapist is going to be the one for you. Fit is critical when it comes to finding a therapist. That's why you should take your time researching potential therapists before scheduling an appointment.
2. Request a free phone consultation
Most therapists offer free initial phone consultations to new clients. Schedule one to ask any questions you might have, including how they work with clients, what their approach is, and anything else that's on your mind. Then go with your gut.
3. Ask what progress looks like
During your first session, you should ask your therapist what progress looks like and how often you should check in around it. See how you're feeling, note any changes, and ask your therapist if they notice anything different. Frequent check-ins will help you stay motivated and develop short-term goals.
4. Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable
Similar to working out, sometimes you can't wait for your therapy session, and other times you don't feel like going. But, change is hard, and it will be uncomfortable at times. It's just part of the process of reaching goals. That being said, the work you do in therapy should never be unbearable, so speak up if things are getting to be too much.
5. It's okay to have nothing to talk about
Not every session will be spent discussing something big. It's okay if you feel like you don't have anything to talk about that week. Sometimes that can lead to the most significant breakthroughs. With an open agenda, you and your therapist will be able to talk about different things going on in your life.
6. Be upfront
Therapy should always feel like a safe, comfortable space. If you don't understand something, if your therapist pisses you off, or if you disagree with anything, you should speak up. This allows your therapist to tailor treatment to what will work best for you.
7. Don't ghost your therapist
If you've been working together with your therapist for a long time, but you feel like it's time to end things, don't ghost them. Instead, be willing to explore ideas.
Here's to bettering your life
Even if it's hard work, therapy should be all about improving your life. Remember that you are giving your time, money, and emotions to a therapist, so assert that you get what you need. If you don't feel satisfied, don't be afraid to find a therapist that can actually help you.