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What to expect in your first psychology session

by Melanie Green

It is natural to feel anxious or overwhelmed about new or different experiences and attending an initial session with a psychologist is no different. After talking to your doctor or booking an appointment with a psychologist you may notice worries about whether you will like your psychologist? Will you be judged? Or maybe concern that you will become emotional during the session. Below is a list of tips to help you to manage your worries and prepare for your first session:

  • Validate yourself: you have already taken the hardest step which is reaching out for help

  • Your goals: prior to your appointment, think about what you hope to achieve from therapy or even write down a few notes to take with you to your appointment to help you remember what you want to discuss

  • Therapist goal: your psychologist’s goal is to build rapport, get to know you, understand your symptoms, collaborate with you to develop an individualised treatment plan to help you to achieve your therapy goals

  • What’s involved: the first session will generally involve completing an intake form and questionnaires, introduction to your psychologist, a discussion about confidentiality and its constraints, questions about your personal history, physical and mental health, relationships, career and the issues that brought you to therapy

  • Take your time: some issues may be difficult to talk about and it is okay for you to take your time and talk about what you feel ready to discuss. Trust and rapport take time to develop

  • Ask questions: if you feel unsure about anything or you have any concerns, it can be helpful to ask your psychologist questions

  • Realistic expectations: most problems don’t occur overnight and therefore will unlikely be resolved after one session, however you may find that you feel more hopeful about overcoming your difficulties

  • Support: if you feel overwhelmed by the thought of attending therapy, you are welcome to bring a support person with you to the first session


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