You've finally scheduled your initial therapy session It can be tough making that first appointment, but you did it! We’ve watched so many people start their therapy in Seattle, both individual therapy and couples therapy, in a state of excitement but also anxiety…hope but also reservation. Going into your first session can be a bit nerve-wracking, so we thought it might help to briefly mention some things about what you should expect going into your first appointment, and also what you can anticipate from your therapist.
What to expect from your therapist
Let’s start there, and let’s start with the obvious that's probably still worth stating: your therapist’s job isn’t to solve your problems. You’re here to get help for those challenges, certainly, and help is absolutely what we're here for, but your therapist really shouldn't be telling you what to do. Not exactly, at least. You’re the master of your own life, and part of our role is to help you to better access your ability to deal with what’s difficult about your life, and to help you to create a life that is beyond what you thought it could be. We help you to better distinguish between what you can and cannot change, and what to do in both scenarios. The choices you have, the acceptance that’s required when you don’t have choice…we don’t take control or even give advice, per se. We instead help to empower you (one of our favorite words!) to navigate your life more effectively than you could before you came to us. We are at times a coach, a teacher, a guide, a resource, a mentor, sometimes a cheerleader, and we’re certainly someone who absolutely cares about your well-being. We’ll join with you in your struggle, and help you through what’s currently difficult, but always with the goal of you being empowered (there’s that word again) to be your own therapist for the many struggles life will continue to serve up to you. One of the best days of a therapist's experience is when their client(s) comes to them and says, "You know, I think I'm good here. I'm gonna keep using all that I've gotten from this experience and I'll call you if I need you." For an honest, quality therapist who doesn't foster unhealthy dependence on their client, that's a great experience. We're here to help, of course, but we're most useful by helping you to help yourself.
What to expect going in
The first session of individual therapy versus couples counseling can differ, as these two types of treatment vary from each other quite a bit. A first appointment in grief counseling can also have some notable differences in how the session is conducted, but all three types of initial appointments share some commonalities. Both individual and couples therapy will include the therapist asking you a number of questions about you, your life, and your relationships. Discussions might be around how you cope with challenges, what your natural skills and abilities and strengths are, and how your past helps inform your current experiences of life. Certainly in a first therapy appointment your therapist will want to get a clear sense of your goals. Sometimes we ask you, or you both, in a first session to please finish this sentence: “I know that therapy will be complete when…” We never forget that your agenda is our agenda…that we’re here to help you get what you want and need, not what we think you need. Don’t know what exactly you need from counseling? We’ll certainly help you to figure that out and move forward from there. And lastly about a first session, your therapist will help you to see that we have a roadmap for you – a way to help get you from where you are to where you wish to you. You’ll leave your first appointment with at least a general idea of how the therapist sees your path into the change you’re coming in to create. The therapeutic process need never be a mystery, and our therapists always try to help make clear how what we're doing in our sessions is part of your goals getting met.
What’s asked of you once therapy begins
Something we sometimes say to our clients when we begin a therapy relationship is this: "If these hours we have together are fun…if we spend the time laughing and keeping it light throughout our limited time together, then I’m failing you. I’m not doing my job. But if these sessions are so difficult that you dread coming here in any way when it’s time for your appointment, then I’m also not doing my job". By this we mean that making change, for any of us, requires some discomfort, some newness, some unknown, and a healthy dose of vulnerability. In both individual counseling and relationship counseling, we don’t get the improvements we want or need by staying where we’re comfortable. As us therapists like to say, we ask that you try to “embrace the discomfort”. That’s the only way we get from here to there, wherever “there” is for you. You don’t need to know how to get from here to there, by the way. That’s our job. But we can’t do the work for you, and yes, sometimes therapy is work! But we encourage you to remember what you’re striving for here: your quality of life. You’re investing in yourself, which by the way is an investment in helping everyone else in your life whom you love. That’s worth some struggle for. We can join you in that struggle.
Therapy Sessions in Seattle, WA
Want to talk more about how therapy can help and what to expect from working with one of our Seattle therapists? We’re offering both in-person and online counseling / telehealth at this time and likely have availability. Please feel free to reach out using our contact form.