You finally found a therapist you’d like to meet with and have scheduled your first visit. Now what? First of all, if you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, know that those feelings are very common. Knowing what to expect and how to prepare for your visit can help manage your feelings. Your first therapy visit is also a great opportunity to learn more about who you’ll be working with and how they can help you. Below, you’ll find tips and a checklist to help you prepare and make the most out of your first therapy visit.
What to expect during your first visit
Your first visit will be different from all other therapy sessions. The initial visit is really a time for you and your therapist to get to know each other. Before beginning, you’ll likely complete paperwork, such as a medical history or consent form. Your therapist may ask you questions to find out more about your past, family history and the challenges you’d like help with. You’ll also learn more about your right to confidentiality and how often you’ll meet with your therapist.
Make time to reflect and prepare
Take some time to think about why you’re seeking therapy. This can help you come up with goals that you’d like to work toward with your therapist. If you’re having trouble thinking of goals, consider how your challenges affect the different areas of your life—for example, your mood, work and relationships. What changes might improve those areas?
You should also make a list of medications you’re currently taking if you’re seeking a new prescription from your therapist. Therapists often ask about other medications to be aware of potential side effects and interactions. (Please note that not all therapists can prescribe medications, so be sure to talk to your therapist about this.)
If you’ve tried therapy before but are meeting with a new therapist, it can be helpful to note your past experiences. What did you like or dislike?
Lastly, your loved ones can be a great resource as you prepare. They might be able to help you come up with goals or share what their therapy experiences have been like if they’ve worked with a therapist before.
Jot down questions for your first visit
View your first visit as a chance to learn about your therapist. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions! They’re fully expecting you to ask more about them and their experience. Also, remember that you’re building a brand-new relationship with someone who you want (and need) to be honest with. In order to build a genuine relationship, you’ll need to know more about them and how they can help. Think about what you’d really like to know about them. Here are a few questions to get you started:
General questions about therapy
- How does therapy work?
- What’s the difference between all the various therapy options?
- How do therapists know progress is being made? How will I know?
- Is everything I say confidential?
- How long will our sessions last?
Questions to learn about your therapist
- How long have you been practicing?
- Do you have experience working with the challenges I’m facing?
- What type of therapy do you practice?
- Can you prescribe medications?
- What is your approach to helping people with challenges similar to mine?
Reflect after your first visit
Make time to reflect on how your visit went. Were you satisfied with the way your therapist answered your questions? Did you feel like it may be a good fit? Remember that it may take some time to feel comfortable with a new person, especially when expressing your thoughts and feelings in addition to personal experiences. Lastly, know that it’s OK if you don’t connect with the first therapist you meet. There are many others out there who may be able to better meet your needs.
Find mental clarity with Teladoc Health today
Are you ready to meet with a licensed therapist or psychiatrist? Teladoc Health offers online therapy services on your schedule. Talk with experts by phone or video at a time that works best for you. Our therapists can help support you with a wide range of mental health needs like anxiety, stress, depression or when you’re just not feeling like yourself.
Still wondering if therapy is right for you? Take our short quiz to find out.
Need a quick guide to help you prepare for your first therapy visit? Download and print our therapy prep checklist.
Published on 9/22/22
Updated on 4/4/23