7 Things To Know Before Your First Therapy Session

  1. There are options
    When it comes to seeking professional help, there are a number of options out there depending on your needs. Psychologists, psychiatrist, coaches, etc. — while there are some overlap, there are also key differences. It helps to do some research that will help you determine what’s right for you. Do make sure that the person you see is qualified to work with you (in Malaysia a minimum of a Masters degree with more than a 1000 hours of supervised practice in counselling or clinical psychology is required).
  2. The first person you see may not be the one you stay with
    It is important that you “click” with your therapist. This is because in order for therapy sessions to be effective you need to feel that you trust your therapist. It is also very important that you feel they are find respectful toward you. If you do not feel connected to them or supported, it is unlikely that you find therapy sessions fruitful. It is fine for you to switch therapists after the first session if it doesn’t feel right for you.
  3. Duration of therapy varies and is subjective
    People want different things out of therapy —individuals come in with goals that are unique to their needs. Some may benefit from more sessions—10 sessions, six months, a year, while others may find that a few sessions are sufficient for them. Others prefer to come in occasionally for maintenance work after achieving their primary therapy goals. This is something you can discuss with your therapist along the way to find something that works well for you.
  4. We don’t have all the answers
    Irvin Yalom, based his practice on the belief that just like how an acorn— if not hindered by obstacles naturally grows into an oak tree; people too if unhindered by obstacles naturally have the capacity to grow toward their desired end goal, the matured, developed state. Your therapist is not an oracle or a magical seer; but plays the role of working with you on the hindrances that are in your way. They may be able to help you come to insight on how you want to handle things, but they cannot tell you how to handle or live your life.
  5. You’ll still have to do your homework
    Therapy takes energy. Not just because of the work you do in the office with your therapist but also because of the work you do outside of the office. It may take up a fair bit of your energy but it can be incredibly worth the effort.
  6. Expect to feel uncomfortable at times
    There are times where you may feel uncomfortable in therapy. Sessions can be intense, deep and require a lot of hard work. Confronting uncomfortable issues can be difficult. Your psychologists will typically monitor and regulate the intensity of the sessions if necessary. There is a saying that it gets darkest before dawn. In the same way, some may experience that as they confront and deal with issues, things can get more difficult before they get easier. That being said, the process should not be so impactful to the point of debilitation. It’s like exercise, some muscle aches are expected but you should not hurt so much that you can’t function after!
  7. Honesty is important
    It helps if you come ready to bare it all. This will make an immense difference to your therapy outcomes. This is not the time you want to put on an act. Therapy is a safe place where you can be comfortable with not being “your best self”.