A First-Timer’s Guide to Starting Therapy

It might not have been easy to reach out, but I’m so glad you did!  You may be in a difficult moment and know you need help. You may have wanted to reach out for years and just decided now is the time. 

I want you to feel as comfortable as possible with the next step…getting started. Here are some tips for beginning therapy that I hope will give you information and some reassurance.

Therapy Online

More screen time?  I get it, you may be very burned out with all you’re doing online these days, and wondering is telehealth therapy really for me? We’ll meet on a platform similar to Zoom but unlike your work meetings, it’s just the two of us talking about you. 

I believe in the connection possible over telehealth. You can share with me aspects of you I wouldn’t get to see in my office…your pets, your space, your hobbies.  You’ll have to provide your own tissues though.

Knowing What to Talk About

You may have a clear list of your goals or just know you don’t feel good and want to sort out why. Both are just fine. 

If you know your goals you can share them in our first session or whenever you’re ready.  You can tell me where you want to start or we can discuss it together.

If you don’t know your goals, we’ll sort through where you’ve been, where you are now, and what you’d like to be different in your life.  We can create the goals together.

Ask Questions

If you’re new to therapy or just new to my practice you might have questions…about therapy, about my practice, or about me.  Just ask.  If I don’t know (and sometimes if you have a question about insurance coverage or particulars about medication, I might not) I will find the answer or find someone who does. 

First Sessions can Feel Awkward

You’re talking to someone you don’t know about things that are hard.  That’s not something we usually do.  You might feel hesitant or anxious about sharing. That’s totally normal. It gets easier. 

The great thing about telehealth is you have the option to surround yourself with anything that will help you feel more comfortable…a blanket, a cup of coffee, your dog (cat, bird, turtle.)  You can also tell me it’s awkward or that you’re not ready to talk about a particular aspect of your life.  Just putting it out there often helps you feel better. The session is yours.  You make the call.

Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ~Brené Brown

Sometimes Feeling Worse Before Better

You may leave therapy feeling lighter, freer, and more equipped to manage the day in and day out than you had before.  However, sometimes talking about the difficult moments that you’ve avoided can leave you feeling more than you had previously.  You might cry or feel emotionally drained after sessions. It is helpful to take some time after the session to reflect, rest, chat with a friend, or take a walk.  Be gentle with yourself. You’ve made a brave decision to address issues.  The only way out is through. 

Take Time Before your Session

If possible, give yourself 5-10 minutes before your session to get settled, get your technology organized, create your comfy space and review your journal or take some quiet time.  Your life is busy.  Building in transition time helps you start therapy ready to go. 

Reflect On Your Session

Make the most of therapy by extending it past our 50 minutes together. Take time after our sessions to think about the session, note what you’d like to practice or address before the next session. A pen and paper or electronic therapy journal can help you hold on to your work from the session.

Tech Issues Happen  

Even when we prepare for telehealth issues will arise. The internet will glitch.  There may be times when our platforms Simple Practice or HMSA Online Care may not work as expected. We can restart our session, switch to a different platform, or connect over the phone. We’ll manage it together.

Therapy is collaborative.

I won’t just nod at you. I’m also human. If I don’t get something right, you can let me know. If you’ve made changes you’re excited about, let me know that too!  Note it in your journal, send me an email, or leave me a message. We can work through the difficult moments and celebrate the wins together.