So you’ve finally booked a session with a new therapist. You know something isn’t quite right and that your mental health can be improved upon. You may have a feeling that you’re dealing with postpartum depression (PPD) or anxiety (PPA), you’re struggling with fertility, infant loss, identity change, overwhelm, or relationship difficulties. Hey, you might not even fully know why you’re feeling off and you’re seeking support in order to gain clarity and self-awareness.
The good thing to know (and give yourself credit for) is that you’re already on the right track. Embarking on your first therapy session is a significant step towards personal growth and emotional well-being.
It’s natural to have questions and concerns about what to expect during this initial encounter. That said, you might feel a bit apprehensive ahead of your first session. You might wonder what to talk about, what information to share, or how to prepare.
Common questions that some parents may secretly wonder could include: “Are my problems valid enough to go to therapy?” “How do I know if I need therapy?” or “What if I don’t feel comfortable with the questions they ask me?” To help alleviate some of these concerns, we’ve compiled a list of eight questions that your therapist may ask during your first session.
1. What made you book this session?
Your therapist may begin by inquiring about the specific reasons that led you to seek therapy. Understanding your motivations provides essential context and helps your therapist tailor the sessions to your needs. For example, you may have a hunch that anxiety is at play. If so, express it!
2. Why now?
Exploring the timing of your decision to begin therapy is crucial. Your therapist may want to know if there are recent events or triggers that prompted you to reach out for support. This can shed light on the current state of your emotional well-being. You may tell them that ever since getting pregnant, your mental state has felt off. It’s important to be as honest and articulate as possible.
3. If therapy were to “work,” what would be different about your life down the road?
Envisioning the desired outcomes of therapy is an important exercise. Your therapist may ask you to describe what a successful therapeutic journey would look like for you. This helps set goals and expectations for your sessions. You may feel stuck or that nothing brings you joy currently. If therapy were to “work” though, you might feel better adjusted to your life with concrete things to look forward to and a lifestyle you enjoy.
4. What feels hardest right now?
Identifying your current emotional struggles is essential. Your therapist may encourage you to discuss the most challenging aspects of your life at this moment. Sharing these difficulties can be a significant step towards addressing them and something you can expect from a first therapy session.
5. What’s going well?
It’s not all about the challenges. Your therapist will also want to know what is going well in your life. Discussing your strengths and positive aspects can help in building a balanced perspective and identifying areas for improvement. This also helps practice gratitude by looking at what’s going well so that you can learn to create more of that.
6. Let’s get to the basics: sleep, nutrition, exercise, routine, alone time, etc.
Physical well-being is closely connected to emotional health. Your therapist may inquire about your daily routines and habits, such as sleep, nutrition, exercise, and how you manage alone time. These factors can have a significant impact on your mental state.
7. When assessing your emotional challenges, what has helped in the past and what has made it worse?
Reflecting on past experiences is valuable. Your therapist may ask about coping mechanisms you’ve used in the past, what worked, and what didn’t. For example, you may do really well when you honestly feel seen, heard, and understood. Something that may not work for you, is problem solving or a tough love approach. This information can inform your therapy strategy.
8. If your situation doesn’t improve, what do you fear might happen?
Exploring your fears and concerns about the future is a vital part of therapy. Your therapist may ask about the potential consequences of not seeking help or if your situation remains unchanged. This can help uncover underlying anxieties.
Remember, you may not have immediate answers to all of these questions, and that’s perfectly fine. Therapy is a journey, and as you progress, your understanding and responses may evolve. These questions can serve as a foundation for self-reflection, both before your first session and throughout your therapeutic journey.
If you’re wondering what to expect during your first therapy session, review this list prior to your appointment. If you’re concerned about not knowing what to say during your first session, consider using these questions as a writing prompt. Jot down your thoughts and bring your notes with you. It can be a helpful reference to ensure you cover the topics you wish to address.
Finally, consider what a successful outcome from therapy would mean for you. Envision the positive changes you hope to see in your life as a result of this process. Your first therapy session is a significant step towards a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life. Reach out to our team at The Perinatal Collective if you’re interested in connecting with a therapist who is right for you and your specific needs. Everything is treatable and most symptoms and pain points in parenthood are actually more common than you know!