Quantcast
6 Things To Do Before Your First Therapy Session

6 Things To Do Before Your First Therapy Session

Use these steps to walk into your first session with confidence.

Wellness

My first therapy session was beyond intimidating. Between the stigmas surrounding therapy in the Black community (aka therapy is for crazy people) and my only visual reference being television sitcoms, I was left unprepared AF. I'm sure I'm not the only one, and as comical as the relax, relate, release session in that episode of A Different World was, I needed to know the real. I've been in therapy for four years and overall, the narrative is shifting but many people are still left with questions of how to get started.

Here are some some tips that can help your first therapy session, and your relationship with your therapist overall, go smoothly.

1.Have a one-liner explaining what you're looking to accomplish.

It might sound like a lot to immediately pour out your trauma, but specificity is critical. You should go into your first session, clearly stating what you want to address. For example, "Hi, my name is ____, and I'm currently looking for help with _____" is a great place to start. If you find yourself struggling, take the time to self-evaluate where you are right now. Are you going through a break up? Transition? Lost a family member, generally in need of someone to help you sort through day to day life? The more transparent you are, the better they can help you (and you can determine if they're a good match for you as well).

2.If you have had a preference, do some research on websites that cater to what you're looking for.

Giphy

Representation is imperative. According to an article on Self.com, Black clients are more likely to continue therapy beyond the first few sessions when seeing a black therapist. Still, for many of us, the search for finding a Black therapist, let alone one in network, is damn near impossible. If you're set on finding a therapist that looks like you, know that it might be difficult, but there are resources. Logging on to sites such as Therapy For Black Girls, Black Therapists Rock, and African American Therapist or apps like AYANA Therapy gives you an advantage. Don't sleep on Psychology Today either; there's a filter option where you can specify race, gender, and the area in which you live.

3.Keep your options open.

For more reasons than one, you need to remember that therapy is like dating - you won't always find the perfect fit on the first try. I would strongly suggest having a list of five potential therapists, and setting up initial appointments with all of them. Why? Because anything can happen. Years ago, I had a therapist I thought I was making great progress with call me another name after the third session - in a text message thread where my name was spelled out. Needless to say I blocked him like an ex on Instagram, but on my next try, I found someone that I worked well with for years.

One of my favorite episodes of Cherish the Day was when Evan and Gently spent the day seeing different therapists, and each one brought something different out of them - that's therapy. Visuals like that are why it always frustrates me to hear stories from friends who aren't comfortable with their therapist, but they continue sessions anyway. You have the right to advocate for yourself, especially inside the four walls of a therapist's office. If your experiences are being invalidated, leave. If you're experiencing microaggressions, leave. If you feel like your therapist isn't challenging you, leave - the door is there for a reason.

4.Ignore the people who will tell you all you need is church.

media3.giphy.com

Church people don't know everything, but God does, and that's why He made therapists. I remember being at a party and a woman asked me why I looked so happy recently, and I said, I'm in therapy. Telling people I had a therapist wasn't easy for me at first, especially as a Black woman, so to share that, took a lot. She told me she could never feel safe talking to anyone but God in her secret place, and she didn't believe that she could be healed in therapy. Her response made me feel small, but thankfully my faith is strong and I know better.

Prayer, church, and therapy for me go hand in hand.

My journey has taught me that wellness like Black people is multifaceted - it should be free to take on as many forms as it sees fit. Therapy, candles, sage, crystals, and holy oil all have a place in my home. Don't let anyone invalidate what talking with a professional does for you, or tell you that church is all you need when they go to the doctor for everything else but what's going on in their mind.

5.Don't lie to your therapist.

Like forreal, just DON'T. Lying to your therapist is a telltale sign that you aren't serious about healing. I know that might sound harsh, but essentially you lying about your progress, relationship status, overall mental health, etc. is not only a waste of your time, and theirs but it's dangerous. You'll never be able to see the breakthroughs that psychologists speak of if you walk in every week telling half-truths. I had a friend who went to therapy on a weekly basis who neglected to tell her therapist weekly, that she was seeing a married man. She never experienced any real growth because there was a considerable portion of her life that she choose to leave out. Pain aside, owning your experiences even if they're challenging to recount is what therapy is for.

6.Get excited about becoming a better you.

thumbs.gfycat.com

I was so nervous walking into the first session that I never stopped to think about what my life would be like after therapy. My focus was on how embarrassed I felt of my choices, what led me there, and overall what my therapist would think of me (which are all valid feelings but feelings aren't always facts). So if you're feeling anxious when you walk into your first session, take a moment to see yourself in a better space, healing from trauma can be a beautiful thing, I promise you.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here to receive our latest articles and news straight to your inbox.

Featured image via Shutterstock

Halle Bailey Talks 'The Little Mermaid' Backlash & Having A Forever Best Friend In Sister Chloe

Halle Bailey won our hearts alongside her sister Chloe when their cover of Beyoncé’s “Pretty Hurts” went viral when they were just teenagers, and from there they have become Grammy-nominated artists as the group Chloe x Halle thanks to albums like Ungodly Hour and The Kids Are Alright. Now, their fans have more to look forward to as Halle will be starring as the Disney princess Ariel in the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid.

Keep reading...Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.
The Power Couples In The Zodiac & Your Money Match Based On Astrology

When it comes to power couples in the zodiac, there are instant matches that make for love and financial compatibility. Some zodiac signs work better together than others, and considering financial challenges tends to make or break relationships--finding your money match is important. Not only that but there are certain signs in the zodiac that can enhance your financial world, just by being in it. Planetary energy in certain areas of your birth chart can provide higher success rates and opportunities, and compatibility energy varies by degree.

Keep reading...Show less
The Do's & Don'ts Of Having Sex On The Beach

I’ve never actually tasted a 'Sex on the Beach,' but I certainly have imagined doing it. In fact, I’ve had a lot of sex fantasies, but this remains to be one at the top of my list. However, I continue to harbor some fear because it seems that beach sex is no easy feat.

Keep reading...Show less
The Evolution Of Serena Williams

It is like witnessing magic when you watch an athlete do what they do best. To see a mere human soar in the air over to the other side of a bar or to witness someone run at a speed quicker than a human thought. A basketball player defying gravity just to get a ball into a hoop. A ballerina turning their body into a top, spinning and spinning without fatigue.

Keep reading...Show less
Lori Harvey On Dating With A Purpose & Not Compromising Her Peace For Anyone

Lori Harvey’s dating life has consistently been a hot topic on social media and now the model is shedding light on some of her dating do’s and don’ts. In an episode of Bumble’s new “Luv2SeeIt” content series, the SKN by LH founder sat down with the series' director, producer, and host Teyana Taylor and disclosed some quote-worthy thoughts on dating and relationships.

Keep reading...Show less
Exclusive Interviews
Former Beyoncé Dancer Deja Riley On Changing Her Career For Her Mental Health

Former Beyoncé Dancer Deja Riley On Changing Her Career For Her Mental Health

"I felt like I was not enough. And my mental health is important. So when I started feeling that way, I knew that it was time to shift."

Latest Posts