What Questions will My Therapist Ask at My First Appointment?
October 7, 2019
If you just made your first therapy appointment, you’re probably excited…and a bit nervous. Even though you may know that you’re doing the right thing by seeking help, it’s completely normal to be nervous – after all, you’re going to be telling a complete stranger about your personal feelings.
Although your therapist may be a stranger at first, remember that they’re there to offer you judgment-free support. Beyond that, your therapist knows you might be nervous and is trained to help you both work through that.
In order to prepare you, we put together a list of questions our therapists will typically ask in a first session.
What prompted you to seek therapy?
The answer to this question can be straightforward – “I received a diagnosis and referral from my doctor” – or more ambiguous, and that’s okay. Remember that you don’t need a diagnosis or referral to see a therapist. It’s perfectly fine to see a therapist because you just haven’t been feeling quite yourself. No one reason for seeking therapy is any more or less valid than another.
Another variation of this question is “what concerns/symptoms are you experiencing?” Remember that it’s okay to not have the “right” language to answer this. Just say what’s on your mind.
How have you been coping with these concerns?
Your therapist will likely ask this to get an idea of how you handle emotional stress. There’s a wide range of coping mechanisms, from healthy to unhealthy, so your therapist will want to get to know your style.
Furthermore, he or she will then be able to offer you exercises you’re more likely to enjoy. If you like being outside, for example, maybe a walking meditation would be a good calming exercise for you.
Have you done therapy before?
If you’ve seen a therapist before, you may have already discovered some things you like and dislike. Talking these through with your new therapist can help speed up the learning curve.
If you haven’t been in therapy before, your therapist will then know to put more of an emphasis on the typical structure and expectations of the process.
What are your goals for counseling?
Setting some goals can be a great way to set clear expectations for you therapy sessions. If you’re not sure what you’d like to achieve, your therapist can always help establish clear and measurable goals with you.
For example, wanting to be “less anxious” can be difficult to quantify. Instead, your therapist can help you determine what “less anxious” means for you. He or she might ask what kinds of things you’d be able to do if you were less anxious. Or how certain aspects of your life would be affected if you were less anxious.
Have you thought about harming yourself or others?
This can be a difficult question for many people and can bring up strong emotions. Even so, it’s important for your therapist to know if you’ve thought about hurting yourself. This information will help ensure that you’re getting the best care for where you are mentally and emotionally. Remember, your therapist isn’t there to judge, they’re there to offer help and support.
Even though every therapist will have their own unique way of doing things, these five questions are common during a first session. Knowing what to expect can help ease your nerves, so also feel free to give your therapist a call ahead of time with any questions or concerns.