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  • Writer's pictureDr. G

5 Tips for Starting Therapy

So you have successfully navigating finding therapists that look like could be a fit for you. You have successfully had a couple consultation phone calls to compare, inform your decision, and you have chosen who you would like to work with and have your first session scheduled. Now what? If you are new to therapy and the thought of how to start from the first session feels overwhelming, you are not alone! Here are 5 tips that I hope can help provide some perspective for easing into working with your therapist and getting the most out of your therapeutic undertaking.

1.) Clarify Your Goals

Your goals can be as concrete and specific or as vague as you like. For some, there's a clear issue they want to address, such as alleviating anxiety, dealing with a breakup, or learning how to set better boundaries in relationships. For others, they might feel something is off but struggle to articulate it: "I know there's more to life, but I'm not sure how to get there." Regardless of how specific your goal is, sharing it can help tailor your therapy sessions to your needs.

2.) Be Open and Honest

As a therapist, my goal is to create a safe space where clients can explore their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors without judgment. Being open and honest with yourself, even if you're not ready to share everything with your therapist right away, increases your chances of achieving your therapeutic goals. It might mean acknowledging discomfort or worry about being judged by something coming up for you in session. Simply letting your therapist know something is on your mind, even if you're not ready to discuss it, fosters trust and rapport. As a therapist I still have to earn your trust, just like any other relationship.

3.) Build Trust and Rapport with Your Therapist

This is an extension of tip #2. Therapy takes time, and part of that is feeling out whether you're having the experiences with your therapist that lead to earning your trust. Hopefully, you do not feel judged, and you feel heard. To a similar extent, whether the therapist feels like they have the right training, clinical experience, and are a fit for you. It may seem counterintuitive but if you are struggling to connect with your therapist, voicing that struggle can help facilitate movement!

4.) Be Patient with Yourself

Therapy isn't always straightforward, and progress isn't always linear. Sometimes a session may leave you feeling worse initially because it brought to light something you hadn't fully processed. However, this newfound awareness can lead to important breakthroughs and growth. Allow yourself the time and space to learn from these experiences; they can provide valuable momentum.

5.) Consistency

One of the general goals of therapy, in my opinion, is consistency not perfection. When starting out with therapy the first opportunity to establish consistency is in scheduling. This allows the you to show up for yourself and be provided the space you need. Consistency does not need to mean sessions every week, for some the sweet spot is bi-weekly. Whatever the frequency, consistency provides the opportunity for the other tips to take place and activate. When that occurs, you have a higher likelihood of maintaining momentum and progressively working towards your goals.

Every individual's therapeutic journey is unique, but starting psychotherapy can be a transformative experience that leads to increased self-awareness, emotional resilience, and well-being. Communicating your goals, being open and honest with yourself, building trust with your therapist, practicing patience, and maintaining consistency, you can maximize the benefits of therapy for your personal growth.

Peter Gleiberman, Psy.D.

Licensed Psychologist PSY33347

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