What to Expect When Going to Therapy

Going to therapy for the first time or seeing a new therapist for the first time can be really anxiety producing. Sometimes, part of that is just not knowing what to expect. If you find yourself feeling nervous about our first meeting, please know that that is completely normal.  Here are a few things to help give you an idea of what our sessions will be like.


What does therapy look like?

I hope that sitting in my office will feel somewhat like sitting in a comfortable living room. In our first meeting, we will take a few minutes to talk about confidentiality, billing, cancellations, etc., before exploring what has brought you to therapy. Moving forward, you will be able to use sessions to talk about whatever feels relevant and meaningful to you, on that day. I will follow your lead and trust your intuition on how to make our time the most helpful to you.


Who Is Therapy For?

I believe that therapy is for everyone. You don’t have to be in crisis or have significant struggles in order to benefit from therapy. Therapy is helpful even when life is mostly positive and conflict free. We can all benefit from having a trusted, nonjudgmental, and unbiased person in our life to provide support and help us create a more rich and meaningful life.


How Can it help?

At it's core, therapy is about having a safe relationship with someone who holds space for you to explore, heal, and grow at your own pace. Some people come to therapy looking to be “cured.” I am very careful with the use of this word, because I think that it insinuates a need for clients to be "fixed," and gives clients a false hope of ridding themselves of any negative emotions or experiences. The truth is that it is inherently human to experience a full range of emotions. It is normal and good to feel angry or sad or hurt over certain things. Therapy is about increasing your ability to recognize and tolerate your emotions, to identify what you need, and to take effective action to get those needs met. It is also about identifying the patterns in our life that keep us from having the life, career, and relationships that we want. Therapy is about gaining new insights so that we can better understand ourselves and the world around us. Sometimes therapy is about learning new skills. And sometimes it’s simply about having someone listen to us, validate us, and bear witness to both our pain and growth. Clients find that through these things, symptom relief will naturally flow. 

I also think it's important to note that when you first begin therapy, things may seem worse before they get better. When we unearth and really look at the things we have spent so long pushing away or ignoring, it can be difficult. Sometimes, it brings up things we don't expect. This is a normal and necessary part of the healing process, and I will help you navigate this. 


How is it different than talking to a friend?

Friends are incredibly important supports in our life. They are irreplaceable for many different reasons. However, friends don’t always know how to support us or help us get "unstuck" during really challenging times. This is where a therapist can stand in the gap. Therapists have specialized training in how to be good listeners, but we can also offer more than that. We know how to help our clients gain insight, heal, and move toward making positive changes in their lives. We are objective and unbiased, so you don’t have to worry about us judging you. We know how to let you move at your own pace, through your own process, in the way that you choose. You can also be sure that anything you share is completely confidential (with a few exceptions related to extreme safety concerns and court orders—don’t worry, we will cover these in our first session). 


Is it okay to be skeptical?

YES! A good therapist will never expect your blind, unquestioning trust. It is normal to feel guarded or self-protective in the beginning stages of therapy. Building trust takes time. I honor your need to protect yourself until I have earned your trust.


A few other things you should know:

I will not try to “fix” you. You are a human being, not a project.

There is no “right” thing to say or not say.

I will not judge you, your feelings, or decisions.

I will not make you talk about something you aren’t ready to talk about.

My role is to help you figure out what is best for you, not to decide that for you.

You get to decide when and how you want to make changes