What to Know Before Your First Therapy Appointment

Apicha Community Health Center Jan 12, 2018  

Apicha CHC

Your first time doing anything can be scary. Like going on a first date, speaking in front of a large crowd, or even bungee-jumping. The same can be said for therapy. 

For many folks, therapy can sound like a scary or uncomfortable experience -- especially if someone has never gone before. But in reality, going to therapy or counseling can benefit a person in a number of ways, and help them lead healthier, happier lives. There are many different kinds of therapy, and different techniques and approaches a therapist will use, but the end goal is the same: to have a patient resolve their issues and feel better and happier. 

In an effort to help you get your feet wet, we asked our Mental Health Services Director, Jun Matsuyoshi, what are some important things to know before attending your first therapy appointment.

What is therapy?

Psychotherapy is a way of addressing emotional and mental problems by talking with a trained professional.  Problems cover a wide range of issues that may be situational (i.e., a job loss or death in the family); or long-standing (arising from conflicts over a period of time).

Building trust in a relationship is important. How is trust built in a therapy relationship?

Trust is perhaps the most important component of therapy. An individual will develop trust if the therapist is consistent, honest, and does what they say they will do. Such details as starting the session on time; giving honest feedback in a way that the patient can receive; and behaving in a calm manner at each visit are things that the patient observes. A therapist who listens without judgment helps the patient to feel safe and understood.

There are so many people who have never been to therapy/counseling. What are some anxieties and concerns you think folks have?

People are not sure what therapy is about and the unknown tends to make people anxious. The depictions in popular culture of psychotherapy and psychiatric treatment may give a skewed version because their purpose is to dramatize or entertain.

What are some things folks can do before their first session to quell their worries?

Therapy is an investment in your well-being and quality of life. Think about what you want from therapy. Think about what you want from the therapist.  Discuss these concerns with the therapist. 

What else should people know about therapy before their first session?

What will your insurance cover? Do you have a co-pay? What is the time that they want to schedule the appointment? How often are they willing to go? 

What can people expect from their first session, and subsequent sessions?

The first visit will be different from future visits. The first visit is a chance for both you and the therapist to get to know each other. The therapist will ask why you came to therapy, and what concerns and symptoms you are experiencing. Be as honest as you can. Also, you should feel free to ask questions. Trust your gut feeling.

Can you tell me what mental health services Apicha CHC offers to its patients?

Apicha CHC starts out with an assessment by a social worker to figure out what kind of mental health care you need and what is the best place to get that care. Following the assessment, the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) will make recommendations that may include any of the following:

1. Individual, couples, or family counseling at Apicha CHC or with a therapist in the community.

2. Referral to a psychiatrist.

3. Referral to specialized services such as for substance use or emergency treatment.

Other Resources For You

We understand that everyone is different, and handles things in their own way. Below, we included some of our other mental health resources, for your benefit. If you'd like to schedule an appointment with us, you can do so here, or clicking the image below.

Apicha Community Health Center | LGBT Health Center in NYC


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