Your first session is like an interview. Ask questions about how they will address your issues and their counseling style. The therapist should let you know what to expect when working with them. You and the therapist can become more familiar, set goals and realistic expectations, and talk about a therapy plan. The therapy plan may change with time, but plan the frequency of sessions.
You should be comfortable sharing your feelings and being alone with your therapist. No matter how thorough reviews are, the one-on-one experience is unique to each patient-therapist relationship. In-person, phone, and teleconference meetings are the best way to decide whether to pursue more therapy sessions.
Some things you may notice when speaking to a therapist:
- They interrupt you.
- They do not seem to be listening.
- They do not respect the appointment by being late or ending early.
- They brush off your concerns.
- You do not like the office or space.
- They fidget or are still too still, and you find it distracting.
You may also notice things about yourself. For example, you may feel at ease or tense while in the room. Or, you could feel uncomfortable talking about certain topics with a therapist of the opposite gender. Likewise, you may want someone similar in age or someone older with more experience.
Mental health professionals should be neutral about certain topics, such as religion and politics. However, you may feel more at ease with someone who shares your ideology. For instance, you may seek counseling with a member of your religious organization during a crisis of faith or spirit. If you feel like your therapist is judging you, you may be more reserved or hesitant to share your thoughts and feelings.
It would be best if you were open and honest with your therapist and yourself. The therapist-patient relationship is a two-way street. You may not be able to fully communicate if you do not feel compatible with your therapist.
It is acceptable not to like a therapist. It may be their services, personality, or vibe. Therapy is a personal and intimate experience, and you should work with someone who makes you feel comfortable and heard.
A therapist will not be offended if you decide not to see them, even if you have a few sessions and then choose to see someone else. Professionals only have your mental health in mind.
You may have to shop around for a well-matched therapist, or you might find the perfect one immediately. Doing your research and asking questions are the best ways to connect with a counselor who meets your mental health needs.