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What to Expect When You Start Therapy

Updated: May 6



Woman sitting with therapist in NYC

Are you thinking about starting therapy? Perhaps you have never done it before, you don’t know what to expect, and you are feeling a little nervous. This is understandable and very common. People experience nervousness about starting therapy for several reasons including concerns about judgment, worries about being vulnerable, anxiety rooted in uncertainty, questions about effectiveness, and more. Considering what therapy is for and why people seek it out, these feelings make a lot of sense. The therapists at Insight & Action Therapy are trained to create a safe and non-judgmental space for their clients, within which they will work collaboratively to address concerns and help to ease folks into the therapeutic process. For most people, working through the discomfort of starting therapy is well worth the benefits they experience as a result of committing to this kind of personal work.


What Happens During your First Session and What is the Intake Process?


In your first session, your therapist will conduct an initial intake. This involves asking you questions about your reasons for seeking therapy, your personal history, your current symptoms or challenges, and your goals for therapy. It may feel tedious at times, but by understanding your personal background, including information about your family, upbringing, education, work, relationships, and any significant life events or traumas, your therapist can contextualize your current concerns, begin to develop a holistic understanding of who you are, and tailor their therapeutic approach to your unique needs. 


An important part of the intake process is discussing your current symptoms or struggles, as well as how they are impacting your daily functioning and overall well-being. This may involve exploring your thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and any physical symptoms you may be experiencing. You will never be coerced into talking about anything you do not want to share. Sometimes it takes a while for clients to feel ready to address particular thoughts, feelings, and past experiences, and your therapist will be sensitive to this.


In collaboration with your therapist, you may want to identify specific goals you hope to achieve through therapy. These goals may be related to managing symptoms, improving relationships, developing coping skills, increasing self-awareness, making positive changes in your life, or improving your mental health in general. Your therapist can help you to clarify your goals and develop a plan for how to work towards them, and your goals might change as the work of therapy progresses.


Sometimes the intake process may take a few sessions to complete, and sometimes it is completed within one session. There is no one way to do therapy, and your therapist will be there for you to answer any questions you have about therapy throughout the intake process and beyond.


Your Therapist and You


The bond formed in therapy, commonly referred to as the therapeutic alliance or therapeutic relationship, is a collaborative connection between the therapist and the client, and is rooted in mutual trust and honest communication. The therapeutic alliance helps clients to feel comfortable being vulnerable with their therapist, which allows clients to develop deeper levels of self understanding and to make progress toward meeting their treatment goals. 


Building a trusting and supportive relationship is essential for effective therapy. The intake process will provide an opportunity for you to start to get to know your therapist and establish rapport. Your therapist will create an environment within which we hope you will feel comfortable asking questions, expressing concerns, and sharing your thoughts and feelings. You may notice the rapport between you and your therapist strengthening as you start to feel a sense of trust, comfort, and connection with them. Ideally, you will feel listened to and understood, and you will feel safe to express yourself openly and honestly without fear of judgment, but rather knowing that your therapist will meet you with empathy and validation of your emotions. Gradually, you may notice that you feel more at ease in sessions, that you are able to engage in meaningful conversations, and that you're making progress towards your therapy goals. 


Key Takeaway


Overall, the intake process is collaborative and involves you and your therapist working together to lay the groundwork for your therapy journey. Within a safe and welcoming space, your therapist will gather information and help you to establish goals. Simultaneously, the therapeutic alliance will begin to be formed and rapport will begin to be established. The intake process sets the stage for future sessions and helps ensure that your therapy experience is tailored to your specific needs and preferences.


Find a Therapist at Insight & Action Therapy


Do you find yourself struggling to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, difficult circumstances, or challenging emotions? When you feel ready to schedule your intake session with one of our therapists in NYC, please give us a call at 347-327-3698 or fill out an inquiry form. We are here to guide you through the process of connecting with one of our therapists and embarking on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth.


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