Are you preparing for your upcoming first session with a new therapist and thinking about what the first session might involve?
Or perhaps you have always wondered what you might be asked if you decided to work with a therapist? Regardless of what has brought you here to read this blog, this blog will help you develop a deeper insight and understanding of what a first session with a therapist may entail, covering some of the most common questions asked.
I do hope these questions will help to ease pre-therapy anxiety for some of you and help you feel more prepared before your first session.
So, what questions might you be asked? First and foremost it is important to remember that your first 1-2 sessions will usually operate as consultation and that of which your therapist will be assessing where you are at so they can best meet your therapeutic needs.
As part of the initial consultation/assessment phase, here are 7 questions which I believe to be some of the most common questions that I as a therapist will ask and I also know colleagues of mine would similarly include in the beginning stages of therapy with their clients.
Have you ever had therapy before? - For me as a therapist this question helps me understand where a client is at in regards to whether or not engaging with therapy is new ground for them or perhaps if they are familiar with the therapeutic process and this allows me to meet the client exactly where they are at. This question also provides an opportunity for us as therapists to gain insight into what may have worked and not worked in previous experiences a client may have had with therapy and this helps me best meet my clients therapeutic needs.
Why therapy now? What has brought you here at this time in your life? - As a therapist I always find it fascinating and important to understand the moment a client decided to seek support. For some people a significant life event may have recently happened which pushed them to seek support and for another person the choice to seek support may have been building over a long period of time. This question also provides the client with an opportunity to share the problems they are facing and what they are hoping to receive support with.
What are your goals within therapy? - This question is important so both therapist and client can be on the same page and work towards the clients goals. A client may not always come with goals in mind and that’s ok too as we will always establish goals as therapy progresses and the client begins to share their story. In the event that the client has goals in mind, it is important that we assess if the goals are currently achievable. When goal checking and goal setting with a client, I always want to assess the nature of a clients goals in reference to how realistic and achievable the goals are and what timeframe the client hoped to reach these goals. For example if a client said “I hope to overcome all anxiety in two sessions”, this is an opportunity to help the client adjust their expectations to work towards the goal in a more achievable and sustainable way whilst avoiding potential disappointment.
Are you currently having or have you previously had suicidal thoughts or had intent to harm yourself within the past month? - The only way we can support a client is when a client is fully transparent and honest. Although it may be difficult for a client m to share when feeling suicidal, opening up with your therapist is crucial in getting the support you need and by opening up we can now put a support system in place to help you work through these feelings and work towards feeling better. It is important to note that while confidentially is guaranteed in therapy, there are limits to this confidentially and this is primarily for your own safety. Exceptions where confidentially may be broken is where a client shares they intend to harm themselves or another person.
How do you currently cope with the issues you are experiencing? - This question helps me as a therapist to understand the type of foundation we are building from. Often a client will already have many strategies and place and then often a client will answer saying they are currently doing nothing that they feel helps them cope. When I first meet a client I always ask them to imagine building a house. When building a house, if we don’t have a firm foundation or strong walls etc, it would not make sense to start to add windows and doors as they would not be supported and they would fall down or collapse. As we progress through therapy it is important that we establish a wellbeing plan which creates and maintains a positive sense of well-being and a foundation to build upward from. The more we take care of ourself the greater we can respond to what we are facing and ultimately the better we can engage with therapy.
Do you feel connected with others in your life and feel like you have good support? - This question helps us gain an understanding of whether or not the client is supported outside of therapy. Where possible I always encourage the idea of building a support network outside of therapy. Although therapeutic support can be transformational, it is important that the client does not become reliant on this method of support as the only method. Loneliness is a common cause or contributing factor to poor mental health with isolating one’s self adding fuel to the fire. Try stronger the support network naturally the more supported we become.
What are your expectations of therapy? - This questions helps both client and therapist to once again be on the same page. Sometimes a client will present and say their expectation is just to be heard and be able to vent for 50 minutes. Another client may present and say, I need skills to help me deal with the anxiety I face in work each day… and the list goes on. It is important to discuss your therapeutic expectations so your therapist can best meet your needs and perhaps help guide you towards what might be most beneficial for you from a therapeutic stance.
Remember - your first session with your therapist is an opportunity for both of you to build rapport and work on building a connection and while your therapist may ask many questions in the first session, you may also feel free to go prepared with some questions of your own to help ease your mind and your therapist in most cases should be more than equipped to answer those questions.
I really do hope this blog may bring a sense of peace or clarity to anyone out there who may be considering seeking support. If there are any questions I can answer to help you on your journey towards opting for therapy - please feel free to reach me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for reading this blog.
God bless you,