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The First Step Forward: What to Expect in Your First Therapy Appointment

Making the decision to start therapy takes a lot of courage. Whether you’re coming in to reduce your anxiety, heal from trauma, or process life stressors, attending therapy for the first time can bring a wide range of emotions. Anticipation, anxiety, excitement, and curiosity are all normal feelings to have about your first appointment. You don’t know what to expect or what a first session looks like. All you know is that you’re expected to come in and talk to a stranger about yourself for 45-50 minutes. I’m here to break it down for you to reduce some of the anxiety surrounding your first therapy appointment.

The Intake

To start off, the first session is often considered the “intake session.” In the intake, your therapist will be getting to know you and what brings you to therapy. Your therapist may ask you about your symptoms, school/job, family, friends, and past experiences. It can feel really overwhelming to think about sharing all that information in one session, however you get to choose what you share and what you don’t want to share. While it is important to be vulnerable and open, you are meeting for the first time, and your therapist knows you may not feel comfortable sharing everything yet. You are in control of what you share and your process of healing.

Goals for Therapy

What do you want to work on in therapy? What changes would you like to see in yourself and your life? How would you know therapy “worked?” These are all some questions that you may want to ask yourself before your first session to explore your goals. Goals are important for therapy because they let your therapist know what you want to work on and provide a guide for the therapeutic process. Some examples of goals include reduce anxiety, improve mood, process trauma, and have a safe space to talk and process stressors. There is no right or wrong goal; it just depends on you and what you want out of therapy.


girl at first therapy appointment with therapist

Exploring If Its a Good Fit

An important part of the intake session is seeing if you and your therapist are a good fit. You want a therapist that makes you feel safe, affirmed, and comfortable. Consider your therapist’s style of communication and whether it aligns with

what you want. Some therapists are more direct and talk more in session, and other therapists are more reflective and allow you to take up more space in the room. If you feel the therapist would not be a good fit, it’s important to let them know as a good fit is the most significant factor for positive outcomes in therapy. Your therapist wants what is best for you, even if that means seeing a different therapist. Your therapist can also provide referrals to other therapists that she thinks may be a better fit for you and your concerns.


Overall, starting therapy can be pretty anxiety-provoking, but I hope you’re feeling a little more at ease about what to expect in the first session. Seeking therapy for the first time is a really brave act, so I hope you feel proud of yourself for taking this step. Therapy is a journey of growth, self-awareness, and healing, and I am here to support you through every step. (Click here to learn more about me!) If you’re ready to take the next step and begin therapy in Gainesville, FL, feel free to give me a call at 352-649-3876 or fill out my contact form. I offer free 15 minute consultation calls to prospective clients to see if we'd be a good fit. Let's start your journey of growth and healing today.


Written by Sasha Larson, LMHC

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