You think you need to go to therapy, but you feel nervous about the process. You want to get help for the issues bothering you, but you don’t know how to get started with therapy. Don’t let uncertainty about what to expect intimidate you or keep you from getting the help you need. This post explains the basics of how treatment works.
6 Steps to Get You Started
People beginning therapy for the first time may feel uncertain about the process. Treatment doesn’t need to be intimidating. Regardless of which type of talk therapy you’re receiving, the process is pretty much the same.
1. Choose a Therapist
The first step is to decide you want to seek help. The second step is to find the right counselor for you. This step may be the most challenging part, depending on how well and how quickly you mesh with the counselor you choose.
Sometimes finding the right therapist takes time and requires meeting with multiple mental health professionals before you find the right fit. Whether you interview multiple counselors or connect with the first one you meet, your mental health is worth the investment of time. Once you find the right counselor, it’s unlikely that you’ll need to search again.
2. Consider Payment
Once you find a therapist you’re interested in, you should determine how you’ll pay for the appointment. If payment isn’t clearly discussed early on, it can be like another client in the room. You can’t be free to do the work of therapy if you’re worried about payment.
The fees therapists charge can range from $75-$200 per session. Many health insurance plans cover therapy, but the coverage varies. Even with insurance, you’ll likely need to pay a copay of $10-$40.
Check with your insurance administrator or the counselor’s office to determine if they accept your insurance and how much you’ll need to pay for each appointment. Many therapists offer payment via a sliding scale for those who don’t have insurance or can’t afford the fee for service.
3. Make an Appointment
The best way to determine if a counselor is a right fit is to meet them either virtually or in person. Many therapists provide a 15-minute no-fee consultation. Call the office and make an appointment. The person scheduling the appointment will tell you everything you need to know for the initial meeting, including any paperwork you need to complete beforehand and where to locate it.
4. Prepare for the Appointment
You don’t need to do much to prepare for your first therapy appointment. After you make the appointment and complete the necessary paperwork, make sure you know where the office is or the credentials to log-in for a virtual meeting. Then you just show up on time (or early, if they requested you do so) to meet your counselor for the first time.
Before your first appointment, consider the following questions you may want to ask your counselor:
- Can I trust that the information I share with you is confidential?
- How many sessions do you think I’ll need?
- What’s your approach to therapy?
- How long will each session last?
- What can I expect from our future sessions?
5. Attend the Counseling Appointment
The first appointment isn’t like the others you will attend. The goal of the initial appointment is for you and your counselor to get to know each other. This first meeting allows you to determine if the fit is right.
Approach your first appointment like an interview where you and your therapist ask one another questions and learn about each other. Each of you will have your questions answered and enter your relationship feeling more comfortable.
Your therapist likely will ask you questions in the first appointment like:
- What brought you to therapy?
- What are your concerns?
- How long have you felt this way?
- How have you been handling these feelings?
The counselor will also ask you general medical information and questions about your history and current living situation.
In the first session, you and your counselor will agree on a general therapy treatment plan. The plan will include the length of your sessions, how frequently you’ll meet, what they suspect (based on the limited information they have from that meeting) you’re experiencing, and how they will engage with you to create a treatment plan.
Your treatment plan likely will change as your therapist gets to know you better and you work together. Your counselor should always keep you informed of and be agreeable to any changes.
6. Adjust as Needed
Not only may your treatment plan change, but you may also determine at any time that a specific counselor is not the right fit for you. You have to feel comfortable with your counselor and feel like you’re making progress. If you don’t, it’s probably time for a change.
If your therapist isn’t sharing information about their diagnosis with you or challenging you to make progress, treating you like an equal, and helping you learn and grow, then it’s time to move on. While it may be disappointing to start the process over, it will be worthwhile when you’re connected with the right counselor and on your way to healing.
Let All Counseling Help You Get Started With Therapy
Some people wonder why they should talk to a therapist instead of a family member or friend. After all, why pay to talk to someone when you can do it for free? Therapy is about much more than talking. Counselors have professional training to prepare them to help people through all types of life challenges. And the vast majority of people who go to therapy report positive results.
All Counseling wants to help you find the right counselor to help you get the mental health support you deserve. Use our searchable counselor directory to find the counselor you need.