Things to Expect In Your First Therapy Session

Medically reviewed by N. Simay Gökbayrak, PhD — By Leah Campbell


It takes a lot of strength to make that first therapy appointment, but now that you have, you might be wondering what it will involve.

Scheduling your first therapy session requires resolve — to admit you may need some help or that you have a condition, symptoms, or challenges to work through — and self-awareness to recognize you need a little help.

So if you’ve made your first counseling session already, you should know just how much strength you truly have.

And if you haven’t picked up the phone quite yet, there’s nothing to fear in doing so — and everything to gain. 

But if you’re new to therapy, you might be wondering exactly what to expect when meeting with a therapist or counselor for the first time.

What to expect from your therapist

Despite some misconceptions, a therapist’s job isn’t to solve your problems for you.

They aren’t there to tell you what to do, or to tell the people who’ve hurt you just how wrong they were.

In fact, most therapists won’t bother touching on the rights and wrongs of people in your life. Instead, they’ll focus on helping you turn your focus to what you can and can’t change — ultimately: you, your choices, and your responses to events.

Depending on your reason for starting therapy, most therapists will spend time encouraging you to look inward.

This might mean talking through past trauma and developing strategies to help you cope.

Looking inward might require you to explore any phobias you have, and then work with your therapist to overcome them.

Or you may dive deep into your interpersonal relationships — not to examine the faults of others, but to help you better understand your role in making relationships better or  setting boundaries in order to protect yourself.

Whatever your case may be, you’ll find that therapists can be great sounding boards and provide excellent resources when needed. But their main goal is to help you learn how to better help yourself.

What to expect from yourself