What you can expect

Your first psychotherapy session

Your first psychotherapy session is usually a time for the therapist to gather information about you. The therapist may ask you to fill out forms about your current and past physical and emotional health. All of this information helps the therapist gain a deeper understanding of your situation. It might take a few sessions for your therapist to fully understand your situation and concerns and to determine the best approach or course of action.

The first session is also an opportunity for you to interview your therapist to see if his or her approach and personality are going to work for you. At any time during therapy, especially in the beginning, don’t hesitate to ask the therapist questions. If you don’t feel comfortable with the first psychotherapist you see, try someone else. Having a good “fit” with your therapist is critical for psychotherapy to be effective.

Types of psychotherapy

There are a number of effective types of psychotherapy. Some work better than others in treating certain disorders and conditions. In many cases, therapists use a combination of techniques. Your therapist will consider your particular situation and preferences to determine which approach may be best for you.

During psychotherapy

For most types of psychotherapy, you and your therapist sit facing each other during sessions. Your therapist encourages you to talk about your thoughts and feelings and what’s troubling you. Don’t worry if you find it hard to open up about your feelings. Your therapist can help you gain more confidence and comfort.

Because psychotherapy sometimes involves intense emotional discussions, you may find yourself crying, upset or even having an angry outburst during a session. You may also feel physically exhausted after a session. Your therapist is there to help you cope with such feelings and emotions.

Your therapist may ask you to do “homework” activities or practices that build on what you learn during your regular therapy sessions. Over time, discussing your concerns can help improve your mood, change the way you think and feel about yourself, and improve your ability to cope with problems.