Psychotherapy: What to Expect in the First Session

Psychotherapy: What to Expect in the First Session

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Psychotherapy: What to Expect in the First Session

By: Julia Keys

The first visit with a therapist can be intimidating. Many people become anxious before their first visit because they don’t know what to expect.  The purpose of the first visit with a therapist is mainly serves is to gain background information about the patient and is therefore not representative of following visits. Many patients are unaware of this and quit therapy after the first appointment because they assume all sessions will be like the first one.

The first visit can sometimes feel like the therapist is conducting an interview. Therapists will ask many questions about the patient’s physical, mental, and emotional health, as well as lifestyle, family life, and history of family illness. It is important to be honest and straight forward with answers and concerns. If a therapist feels as if they have enough information, they may arrive at a tentative diagnosis by the end of the session However, most therapists see patients a few times before discerning a diagnosis. If a therapist thinks that medication would be useful for the patient, they may provide them with the name of a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner who can prescribe psychiatric medication.

Many new patients expect the first therapy session to include an evaluation. While therapists during the first session do take down extensive information and come up with a treatment plan for the patient, they very rarely preform a formal evaluation. Psychological evaluations are extensive events that take upwards of six hours to complete. No ethical psychologist would attempt to complete one in under an hour. Evaluations consist of many different types of psychological and cognitive tests and subsequent scoring and interpretations of test results. Oftentimes psychological evaluations are requested for specific purposes, such as legal or academic requests.  Formal psychological evaluations are not necessary for a therapist to determine a proper course of treatment for a patient.

Educating oneself on what to expect during therapy is the best way to get rid of any anxieties about treatment. Remember to ask your therapists any questions you have, for they are the best resource.  Scheduling a first time appointment can be scary, but be proud of your courage to seek the help you need and deserve!

If you or someone you know has anxiety about their first appointment or wants the help of a therapist, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit .


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