First Therapy Session

In the last month I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching and trying to figure out the best approaches to start rebuilding myself and working towards the goal of becoming a better me. 

Sometimes that kind of sentence can feel really cheesy or insincere as I type it out but it is the truth. I’ve had many reasons to consider doing so in the past but in the spirit of working to become a better me, I made the decision to start going to therapy.

Therapy Appointment
photo by Samad Deldar
As a 27 year old male, the idea of therapy was a bit much for me to swallow, especially since the suggestion to test it out, came from my loving wife with a true sincerity and desire to help me work out some of my internal struggles. 

In the first couple of discussions that we had about going to a therapy session, I felt rather uncomfortable with the rudimentary act of having those discussions. 

I’m not sure if it was just a general discomfort with the notion that I might “need help” and couldn’t solve everything on my own or a greater fear that there are underlining issues in my background that I didn’t want to have to revisit in order to better understand myself and my tendencies through life.
After some teetering between what I should or shouldn’t do, I ultimately decided that testing out the waters of what therapy could be for me would be the best move forward and my wife helped me to schedule a therapy appointment

While I wasn’t super eager for the first opportunity to see a therapist, I was curious as to what to expect for my first therapy session. I

’ve never been to anything like this before in my life so my expectations were all over the place. Everything was new to me in this arena and to be frank, I was a little anxious to face what was to come.
Perhaps I’m underselling it a bit.

I was VERY anxious as I thought about having intense discussions with someone “objective”, unveiling all of my major character flaws, unraveling my past to try and highlight issues that may or may not exist, etc. 

I definitely started to make the idea of therapy and what a therapy session would look like, feel larger and scarier than it actually was. 
Moving to the actual date of my therapy appointment, I arrived about 20 minutes before the session was scheduled to start. After fiddling on my phone for 15 minutes or so, the person I was scheduled to see, arrived and let me into their office. 

While the office wasn’t fully what I was expecting, I bought into the experience and tried to allow myself the ability to let my walls down and speak honestly with this person.
As an oceanic sized volume of words began to flow out of me, I would watch the facial reactions/movements of the therapist and then spend large amounts of time staring at the floor, unwilling to make eye contact any longer. 

While the therapist did do well to sort of guide the conversation, I felt myself starting to restrict my responses, as some of the things I stated during my emotional word vomit, seemed to solicit curious facial expressions and responses from the therapist.
Am I crazy or did his eyes just get really big and wide when I was just talking about that insecurity?
Beyond that, I’m an extremely analytical human being. I’m not overtly political but I pick up easily on when someone is making a suggestive remark when it comes to politics, of which this therapist did twice in our session. 

Knowing that my own political leanings were in direct contrast them I became even more withdrawn and less likely to share my feelings/thoughts in a transparent manner. 
After what seemed like very little time at all, the session was over. I was more than a bit surprised that there was no “wrapping up” or debrief at the end of the session. 

In fact the therapist pretty much cut the session off mid-sentence looking down at his watch and immediately moving to the action of setting up our next sessions. I also walked out thinking, “shouldn’t I be getting some kind of homework, or something?”
I had a flash of thoughts run through my mind.
First off: Wasn’t therapy supposed to be sort of, I don’t know, therapeutic? 

Were my expectations in what a therapy session was supposed to be, out of line with reality? Why did I actually kind of feel like shit after that first session? 

Was it my negative association with the issues we discussed that were making me feel so bad or did that therapy session not go the way that one should go?
My head was reeling and I was second guessing myself. I talked with my wife on my drive back home and really tried to piece together the full picture of events as I revisited that session in my mind. It sure didn’t seem to be what I was expecting. And the worst part? 

I had already scheduled several more sessions with this individual because of my annoying inability to express my dis-satisfaction when the therapist suggested we go ahead and get some future sessions on the books. 

Now I was really wondering… Should I see it through with this person to see if things develop in a way that is more conducive to me working through the tough issues but at the same time, walking away feeling more whole?
My first instinct was to search the internet for other’s experiences with their first therapy session. I checked reddit, I checked forums, I checked google. It was a mixed bag. Nobody could give me a clear answer but one person did make a statement that helped me in my decision process.
“If this therapist is already making you feel uncomfortable with sharing, then that should be a red flag that you need to continue your search.”
After much deliberation and discussion with my wife, we decided to cancel the other appointments and continue searching.
I can’t say that my first therapy session was BAD. 

The individual did guide the conversation in a way that highlighted some information I hadn’t previously considered. But it didn’t feel like it was the right direction or individual for me. It was tough to come to this decision because it’s not like therapy is free. 

By admitting that I need to continue my search I was also recognizing that my first session was a bit of a sunk cost. Sure, I guess it was worth the money to at least go through the experience and test the waters for therapy as a whole but it was tough for me to not look at the money spent with that first individual as a bit of a waste, at least in my eyes. 

I know that’s not technically true because it was still a valid first step for me to take. But it was a bit disheartening that I had put myself out there, shared a lot of personal information about myself, and would now have to do it all over again with someone new.
If you are at this point in your own search I want to really encourage you: Don’t give up! When you are first looking to find a great therapist that fits your needs, I know it can become incredibly frustrating and discouraging when the first therapist doesn’t work out. 

However, don’t let that be your excuse to stop the search. Keep looking and I assure you, when you find that right fit, it will be worth the waiting, searching, frustration, and discomfort.
**Back to your regularly scheduled program**
I have to give a special shout out to my wife as she took a lot of the feedback I had with the first therapist and really tried to search far and wide to find a better fit. S

he has a special knack to show just how much she cares through her incredible patience as well as her energy and drive, of which she put on full display as she feverishly hunted for a new therapist that might be a better fit for me.
After about a week of searching through a list of “network approved” therapist that we could actually afford, she came to me with a list of 4 individuals. 

We got that list reduced down to 2 based on the profile of those therapists, and finally settled on the next person who I’d go to a therapy session with, based on the fact that they could do Saturday morning sessions.
This was vital for me because I was so fearful to have to explain to my work why exactly I would need to come in late on a bi-weekly basis. Should I have been? No, I think therapy is a normal need that many of us have and as I talk, write, and discuss it more often, it is becoming less and less “taboo” for me. 

I’m not sure how many people feel a similar fear or anxiety when it comes to deciding that they need to go to therapy but want to keep in on the down low to avoid judgement or assumptions. I imagine I can’t be the only one who feels that way. 

I am working to not feel so weird about the fact that I am making a conscious decision to go therapy because it really isn’t that unusual.
According to a study done by Barna Group, “four in 10 American adults (42%) have seen a [therapist] at some point in their lives.” Interestingly enough it seems that Millennials and Gen X are more interested overall in going to therapy than the older generations. At least “one-fifth of Millennials and 16% of Gen X are currently engaged in Therapy.”
So just looking at these numbers which are pulled from the study listed above back from 2018, it is clear that a near majority of people are actively interested or were previously interested in talking to a therapist. 

It isn’t uncommon or unusual, it is just a normal part of seeking to live a better, more purposeful life.
By writing about it in this blog I am making an active choice to try and dispel some of the internally perceived weirdness and choose to instead exercise or activate the positive feelings associated with the decision to schedule a therapy session. 

I am choosing to work on myself and to address issues that I’ve long ignored. That shouldn’t be something that I feel compelled to hide. It should be something that I consider as a sign of strength, that I’m looking to develop myself and get more in touch with why I am the way that I am.
I now believe that any one person’s decision to start seeing a therapist should be taken as a sign of awareness and maturity. Working to address our flaws, weaknesses, short-falls is in fact a strength and a positive sign that one is growing as a human. 

So if you find yourself in a similar position as me and are thinking that therapy might be right for you, be encouraged that you’ve come to this conclusion! I understand the impulse to get down on yourself and allow negativity to cloud your horizon. 

But working to find the right therapist for you can really be so beneficial and help you navigate a path that is going to lead you to finding the best version of you.
When I finally got on the schedule with the 2nd therapist I was still feeling a bit skeptical. After such a bad first showing with therapist number 1, I wasn’t entirely sure if scheduling another therapy appointment was going to be right for me. 

Maybe I was better off finding alternative ways to discuss my issues and solve my stresses. Maybe therapy just wasn’t the right avenue for what I need as a human.
Oh how wrong I was!
Just walking into my first session with my new therapist, I could see that the experience this individual was trying to create in how the office was setup, was meant to be a place of comfort, of relaxation, to provide a safe environment for individuals to discuss their inner hurts, pains, etc.
After I filled out some basic background paperwork, I was ushered into a quiet, calming room where I sat on a couch and sipped on my Yeti of coffee. There were scentsy’s abound! The conversation with this therapist was VERY different. 

It wasn’t long before I found myself releasing some of the stiffness and tension in my body and actually relaxing a bit. Sure, we were discussing some things that made me a bit uncomfortable as they were stressful moments in my life to have to recount, but the conversation as guided by my therapist was actually having some positive effects.
I could tell by the end of the first session that this therapist was right for me. The feelings of sadness, negativity, uncertainty, and awkwardness that I had felt in my first session with the other therapist, were no-where to be found. 

Better yet, the therapist when ending our 1 hour session, actually did a quick debrief and gave me a few thoughts to consider before I walked out that day!
OMG that was exactly what I had been wanting with the first therapist!
Not only that, but the therapist gave me homework to take home. Now I know most people probably consider homework in general to be pretty awful but I was delighted. I had mentioned to my wife after my first failed attempt at therapy,
“Shouldn’t they be like, giving me some homework or something? Just seems like that would be something they would do in therapy.”
During our first session together I was pleased that this therapist was someone who had engaged me on an intellectual level and challenged me to hark back to moments in my life to consider how I had gotten to where I currently am in my life. 

This individual wasn’t over-sharing with her own personal life but they did share a few personal details that helped me to relate to them more quickly and thus, grow more comfortable in that setting. The conversation was difficult at times but at the end of the session I actually felt, BETTER

It was a night and day difference between therapist 1 and therapist 2. It confirmed my suspicions that the first person just wasn’t a good fit for my personality, and it made me happy that I had made the decision to keep searching.
Finding a good fit with a therapist is not an easy task but taking the time, effort, and money to do so is so worth it. With the RIGHT therapist I really feel as though the positive possibilities and path to developing strong insights into yourself can be utterly transforming.
Whether you are looking for yourself or for a loved one, taking that extra time and consideration to understand if they would be a good fit for you will make such a tremendous difference in how therapy can work in your best interest. 

Don’t feel rushed to make a decision or compelled to stick with the first therapist you see just for convenience sake. If it doesn’t feel right on that first time, then that might be the sign that you need to keep looking. 

But also know that it can feel more uncomfortable at first for a lot of people and it may take you building up a professional relationship with your therapist before you have the trust in place to be comfortable divulging information to them and develop a solid dialogue.
Everyone is different but if you take the time to work and find that right therapist for you, I think it can make all the difference in the world for your mental health.
Want to keep reading more from likelyfiction? Check out my blog post on John Mayer's song "Wheel" where I discuss how we all have "Right To Fly".

Below I’ve linked a few other blogs and articles that I think could be helpful in your journey to find the right therapist for you. Please comment, share, and subscribe with my blog as I hope to do more regular updates regarding my personal experience with Therapy and how it is shaping me for the better as a person.
Additional Resources:

American Psychological Association: “How Do I Find a Good Therapist”


  1. While treating mental health issues, psychotherapy and medicine are frequently combined. Medication may be plainly beneficial in certain situations, while psychotherapy may be the best course of action in others. Combining medicine and psychotherapy is often more effective than using just one of them. Good lifestyle changes, such as a balanced diet, consistent exercise, and enough sleep, can help with healing and general wellbeing.


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