Having your first therapy session with a psychological therapist may feel daunting, scary or uncertain. You may have no idea what to expect, or maybe you have seen therapy sessions on TV shows. Perhaps you've heard about them through friends, but you’re unsure how true to life these accounts are.
This is a short blog to help you prepare for your first therapy session.
My name is Jamie Barsky. I am a Clinical Psychologist and have completed hundreds, probably thousands, of hours with people going through therapy. I hope sharing my thoughts will help you to feel more comfortable and ready for your first therapy session.
First therapy session: your therapist
I want to re-assure you that all of the therapists at AnonyMind are highly experienced Psychologists and Psychotherapists. They have all undergone in-depth training to get them to their current positions. There are many short counselling and psychotherapy courses out there, and some professionals can even call themselves a ‘Psychologist’, having had almost no experience working with clients.
We make sure we employ the most well-trained and qualified Clinicians. Most of our Clinicians will have doctorates in Clinical Psychology or Counselling Psychology. All will have accreditation and regulation with professional bodies to ensure they maintain safe and ethical practices.
So, please rest assured that you will be meeting with a clinician who has extensive experience helping people to manage difficult emotions and behaviours.
Getting to know you
Secondly, I wanted to let you know that the first one or two sessions will be a ‘getting to know you’ opportunity. The Clinician will help you feel at ease and will want to understand what you would like some help with.
The Clinician will not rush into supporting change before you have a shared understanding of the main difficulties, the factors that keep the problem going, and what goals you have for the future.
There's no judgement here
I want you to know that you will never be judged by one of our Clinicians. We understand that gambling addiction can push people to behaviours outside of their values and morals. And when regretful behaviour occurred, we know that gambling was in control of your choices.
We know that past or current behaviour does not define us as people. Clinicians might support you to express your regrets and talk about past behaviours (if you feel able to). But they will never judge you.
Freedom of choice
Our clinicians will never force you to stay in therapy or talk about things you don’t want to. Attendance in therapy must be your choice alone. It’s okay to have doubts about whether it will help. And it’s completely normal to have moments of not wanting to attend a session. Your Clinician may offer you encouragement and support, but will never make you feel pressured into sessions. It is always your choice whether you come back.
After you have had your first therapy session, or two, you will have to decide with your Clinician if you want to continue with further work together. If you do, the content of the therapy will depend on what you have agreed to work on and how you both understand the problems you are facing.
My next blog will be on how therapy can help with gambling problems.
In the meantime, good luck with your first session. I hope this blog has helped you feel clear on what to expect. Please take that first step towards the change you want to make.
You can register for your first therapy session and more for free at anonymind.com/register
Dr Jamie Barsky
Dr Jamie Barsky is a Clinical Psychologist and Lead Clinician for AnonyMind