Meeting with a Total Stranger: What To Expect At Your First Therapy Session

  • What do I need to bring?
  • What can I do to prepare?
  • Am I going to have to talk the whole time?
  • Am I going to have to tell them everything?
  • What if I don’t feel comfortable?

These are some of the questions I get when I help a client schedule their first appointment. Let me reassure you, these questions are valid and very common! Booking your first therapy appointment can be scary and uncomfortable. I applaud you for taking the first steps, it takes courage and resilience to decide to walk through our doors.

The first session usually causes people the most anxiety, especially if you have never been in therapy before. You are meeting with a total stranger and working to develop a therapeutic relationship in order to make positive changes in your life. Research shows that the rapport created between a therapist and client is an important factor in the effectiveness of therapy.

As therapists, our goal of the first session is to create a space that makes you feel comfortable and get to know you. We read body language, take into consideration the cues you are giving us, and let you guide the session. We do not expect anything from you except that you show up. 

My friend, who has been working up the courage to go to a therapist, asked me the other day, “What if I cry the whole first session and spill everything that is going on in my life? Isn’t the first session to see if this is a good fit?”

My response? You can absolutely cry the whole first session, you can absolutely squeeze in as much information about yourself as you want in those 45 minutes. These sessions are yours.

What you can expect from a first session:

  • An introduction and explanation from your therapist of what to expect moving forward together
  • A focus on rapport building (our fancy way for saying we want to develop a positive and meaningful therapeutic relationship with you)
  • A safe space in which you can be yourself and express your thoughts and emotions

We are trained to be unbiased, to have unconditional positive regard, and to have immense empathy for each of you that walk through our door. 

Come as you are, you are welcome no matter what you are feeling, saying, or where you are in your therapy journey. 

Ready to take your first step? Give me a call and I would be honored to help guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have.

-Lillian Dugan, LMSW

Clinical Psychotherapist & Client Relations Manager at Nourish Your Mind


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