Getting ready for your first therapy session

Starting therapy is scary for most of us at the best of times, but when you are young, it can be even more intimidating.

When you feel like you’ve gone mad, and you seem to have lost total control of your thought process  sitting and talking to a stranger about it, on your own can feel incredibly scary!

While most kids and teens are really keen to talk to someone about what is going on by the time they get to me, I appreciate that it can be quite overwhelming heading in to that first session. So here are a few tips that might be helpful:

In the run up to the first session take some time to write down all the things that you feel it’s important that your therapist knows. It can really help to sit down with a parent or an adult that you trust, and get some ideas from them as to what might be helpful to share as well.

Take a parent or an adult that you trust with you to the first session. Just having that person with you can be reassuring. Often they will have noticed things that you might not be aware of as well, plus they can be useful when it comes to agreeing a plan at the end. They can help advocate for you, and explain anything to you that might not have understood.

Don’t worry, you will be allowed time upon your own, and unless you share that you plan on hurting yourself, someone is hurting you, or you want to hurt someone else, then everything you share will be kept private.

I am still running all of my sessions online, and plan to continue doing so. I know that I am not alone in this, so if your first session is taking place online, make sure that you can find a safe, private space, to join the session. Somewhere where you are not likely to be distracted, and preferably not your bed! Have a drink of water with you, and plenty of tissues. I don’t intend to make people cry, but it happens!

When the session is over, allow yourself to take some time to decompress a bit. When you are seeing someone in person, the journey there and back can be helpful for this, but when it’s online, it can be harder. Go for a walk, play some Xbox, or do some drawing. Any activity that helps you to gather your thoughts is helpful. Please don’t expect yourself to be able to go straight back in to the classroom, or to carry on working.

Therapy is hard, it brings up lots of thoughts and feelings. The first session is often particularly hard, as you get asked lots of questions and this can often touch nerves you didn’t realise were there. But by showing up to that first appointment, you are so incredibly brave, and you’ve done something so many adults struggle to do. Well done you!