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How to prepare for your first therapy session

Starting therapy can be daunting, especially if it's your first time. You may feel anxious about meeting your new therapist, about sharing thoughts and feelings which you may not have shared with anyone else before. It's very normal to feel this way.

Here are some of our top tips for preparing for your first session:

Understand your 'why' - what brings you to therapy?

Your therapist will most likely start off by asking you this question. It can help to make a list of your current problems and specific situations which trigger difficult thoughts and feelings to share with your therapist in your first session.

Set goals - What do you want to achieve with therapy?

Goals are helpful for guiding treatment and tracking proress. Come prepared with 3 or 4 goals to explore with your therapist. Try to make these SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-based), for example rather than the goal "I want to feel less anxious", think about what you would be doing if you were less anxious and turn that into a goal e.g. "I want to share my opinion more in team meetings".

Get a therapy notebook - A place for all your learnings

Therapy is an active process which requires work. Whilst you have an hour a week with your therapist, the real work happens outside of the therapy room. Keeping notes from your sessions and the work you complete outside of the therapy room in one place will make it easier to remember what to bring to your sessions. It will also give you something to look back on after your time in therapy has ended.

Have realistic expectations - Therapists aren't magicians

Therapy provides a powerful space to explore your problems and work towards your goals. however, it isn't a magic pill. It may take weeks or even years to reach your goals, so don't expect to be 'cured' after your first session. This session usually focusses on getting more detail on your current problems, exploring your history and what led up to your situation and outlining therapy admin e.g. safeguarding and cancellation policies.

Be kind to yourself - You're taking a brave step

It's natural to feel anxious before a therapy session. Don't been yourself up for feeling this way. Carve out some time before and after to look after yourself and reflect on your first session.

If you've been thinking about starting therapy, find out more about the low-cost therapy offered at Power to Live here.

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