Beginning treatment and therapy to recover from mental illness and/or substance use disorder can feel scary but liberating—there can be excitement in knowing that healing is possible but fear in not knowing what this means, looks, or feels like for you.
Part of healing means accepting uncertainty and making peace with not knowing. There are also things you can generally expect in your first therapy session, which can help ease the anxiety you may be feeling.
Getting to Know You
Although each therapy session is about getting to know you, your story, and your desires better, this is especially true of the first few sessions. The initial appointment will likely be an intake appointment for sorts, where you can expect to tell your story as the therapist asks specific questions. All of the questions are asked with the intention of learning more about who you are, your struggles, your goals, and how they can best support you moving forward.
Something you can expect in therapy is for there to be no expectations on you, other than to come as you are and how you are. There is no expectation for you to be anyone other than who you are, which can feel vulnerable.
It is the therapist’s job to meet you where you are with unconditional positive regard, acceptance, and compassion. Allow the therapist to guide you home to yourself, where you can be accepting of yourself in this way too.
Even if it does not feel like it at first, you are safe to be you. Therapy is also a space to unpack why it does not feel safe to be you and to create the change that allows you to feel safe being who you are.
You can also expect to begin setting goals for treatment in the first few sessions so the therapist can collaborate with you to create a treatment plan moving forward.
You are invited to share with the therapist what has and has not worked in the past, as well as what is and is not working in the present. You can share your struggles, desires, and preferences. Creating a treatment plan is about creating a flexible blueprint that will work for you, not against you.
In short, the only thing you need to expect and prepare for going into therapy is to come as you are and accept the fear of healing rather than run from it. It could also be helpful to share with your therapist how you are feeling about the first session and beginning therapy in general. They can help ease and normalize the anxiety you are feeling and answer any questions you have.
Beginning therapy and treatment for mental illness and substance use disorder can be both scary and exciting. While part of you may feel excited to heal, grow, and change, there may be another part of you that feels scared to challenge old habits and accept uncertainty. At Avalon Malibu, we recognize how daunting beginning treatment can be. We are here to meet you where you are and ease any concerns and fears you have. If you are ready to begin your journey of healing and recovery, call Avalon Malibu today at (844) 857-5992.