New to Therapy? Here’s What to Expect

Entering therapy as a couple, family, or as an individual for the first time, or with a new therapist, can be an anxiety-provoking experience. Here are a few things that you can expect from your first therapy session and subsequent sessions.

Initially, before setting up the first intake appointment, your therapist should discuss their fees with you, so that there is a clear understanding about the costs required for therapeutic services. They may also discuss other options with you, such as using your insurance (if the clinician is a network provider on insurance panels), or providing documentation for you as the client to submit your own claims to the insurance company to be reimbursed.

Expect your first appointment with your therapist to be a little different than sessions to follow. You will need to complete intake paperwork, sometimes documenting your current presenting issues, prior treatment, etc. This serves as an initial guide for your therapist in the first session, so that they can accurately assess your situation and ensure that they are competent in the areas for which you are seeking treatment. Part of the initial paperwork should also include an informed consent for treatment, documentation of fees and cancellation policies, as well a NPP booklet (Notice of Privacy Practices). This is for you to take home with you and refer to regarding any issues about confidentiality and protected health information (PHI). During this process, as you are listing all of your information on the various forms, documenting your presenting problems, and signing consent forms, you may feel a little exposed and perhaps even vulnerable. After all, you have not even met with this therapist yet! However, rest assured that an ethical and competent therapist will always protect your confidential information, and is not using the intake forms as a way to intrude upon you before your first session even begins. These forms are just important and necessary tools, as well as legal documents, so that your therapist can begin the process of treatment with you.

So now it’s time to meet your therapist. As you wait for them to appear to bring you back to their office, remember that therapists are human beings just like you. As a humanistic therapist, I treat my clients as equal partners in the therapeutic process and respect and value their thoughts, feelings, and fears. As your first session begins, the therapist may ask you specific questions about your reasons for seeking treatment, and ensure that they are competent in their scope of practice to work with you and provide you with appropriate and adequate care. This first session is also a time for the therapist to simply get to know you, who you are, and find out if you are an appropriate fit to work with in therapy. In saying this, remember that this is also a time for you to assess whether your therapist is a good fit for you and for what you are seeking in a therapeutic relationship. However, keep in mind that this discovery may take more than one session; oftentimes the first few sessions may feel awkward, or even non-productive, as these are still very early portions of treatment and the relationship is just beginning to form between client and therapist.

I believe, as do many others, that the therapeutic relationship is the most important component of treatment. So this relationship, like all relationships, takes time to cultivate. Ultimately, the therapeutic process is about you and your needs, so don’t forget that you have the right to ask questions, express your feelings, and process whatever is coming up for you in the therapy room. I personally encourage my clients to express how they feel in the therapy office (the “here and now”), even if they are afraid, as I believe that the things that happen in therapy sessions represent the dynamics that occur in the outside world. The therapy environment should serve as a place where you feel open and safe enough to express these feelings, and work through them effectively with your therapist.

I hope that this information helps you as you begin your journey. Clearly, there are many components of therapy that I have not even touched on, so remember to consult with your therapist about any questions that you may have during this extensive and very personal experience.

My Qualifications

  • • Licensed MFT
  • • MFC #47955
  • • Certified Eating Disorder Specialist
  • • Certified Eating Disorder Specialist Supervisor
  • • Certified EMDR Therapist
  • • Tri Lingual Capabilities
  • • 15+ Years of Experience
  • • Professional Associations:

  • Professional Associations

    My Office / Location

    219 N. Indian Hill Blvd. Suite 201
    Claremont CA 91711
    Phone: (562) 281-7752