Many new clients ask the question: Is there anything I need to do or to bring to my first therapy session? My hope for this post is to reduce some anxiety, and to foster a sense of safety, trust and comfort for new clients in the future attending their first sessions.
The point of view from my chair is that you the client has reached out to me for help and guidance. You are coming to me for a service that you believe may suite your needs. You already have all the information and materials you need - your body and brain. Since you have a pretty good idea why you called me in the first place, there is not much else you need to do to prepare for therapy. At times I will ask clients to do some homework after the first session, but not much is expected at the initial meet and greet. If you are someone who really needs to prepare, reading a therapist's website, company Facebook page, etc., will be helpful for you to gain an idea as to their style and approach to therapy. Every therapist has their own unique style, but the modalities (types of therapies) or interventions may be similar. For example, CBT - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a common modality of treatment. If your therapist reports to be trained in CBT and uses this treatment in their practice, you may want to do some light reading on what this therapy entails. However this is not necessary. I personally love when my clients are educated on the types of treatment I offer. Not that you have to have read a textbook on each type, but just a general overview is helpful. This is especially true for clients who may benefits from EMDR - Eye Movement, Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy.
Other than some light research if you choose, showing up on time or 5 minutes early is important. A first session is always a session of getting to know one another. You are welcome to ask the therapist questions about what to expect, their training, or any other questions you may wonder about. The therapist's main job in the first session is to build a relationship with the client. You need to feel you are heard and and you need to feel you are safe. The therapist will listen for cues to guide their assessment of what is going on for you. You may also discuss a treatment plan and duration of therapy. Sometimes a plan will be clear, sometimes it may take a few sessions to understand the client's needs if they are more complex.
I like to look at my first sessions as - getting to know each other in a relaxing environment while also having some fun. I always say, if we're not laughing, I'm not doing my job. So take a breath, relax your body as best as you can, and have a seat on my comfy couch!