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What to Expect from Your First Therapy Session

Taking the first step in the healing journey can contain a mix of emotions and feelings: relief, nerves, apprehension, and cautious excitement. A first therapy session can be a stressful experience, especially when a client may not know what to expect. While all therapists have their own style, some commonalities exist within the therapeutic process, including with the therapists at SARA.  

First, it is helpful to familiarize the client with the session format: either in-person or virtual. Feeling comfortable in the session space is essential and includes logging on to the virtual platform, having a strong internet connection, and/or feeling comfortable in the therapist’s office. A therapist may welcome the client into their office and ask how they can make them more comfortable regarding seating and set-up.  

A first session contains much get-to-know-you information and provides a space for clients to ask therapists questions about expertise and protocols. Remember, it is okay to ask the therapist questions about their style, approach, and professional experience.  

 Agency paperwork is typically discussed in a first session, as well as confidentiality, HIPPA, and mandated reporting. While therapists may conduct an intake questionnaire or assessment, it is important to remember that information regarding or containing trauma is sensitive and can be discussed in detail when the client feels safe and comfortable.  

A first session with a therapist begins to lay the groundwork for a therapeutic relationship. Ideally, the relationship is one built on mutual trust, strong and effective boundaries, and honesty. It is important to remember that a therapeutic relationship, just as any other relationship, takes time to build. To learn more about the therapeutic relationship, click here: https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/definition-of-therapeutic-relationship  

If time allows, the therapist may begin to inquire about why a client is seeking therapy and what they are looking to gain from their time in therapy. This will contribute to the treatment plan, a document co-authored by both client and therapist which contains the personalized goals and objectives of therapy.  

It is necessary to acknowledge that seeking help can be intimidating and that those feelings are valid in this new step. Ideally, a first session can calm some of those fears and offer reassurance to the client that therapy can be a place of safety and healing.  

Here from a therapist on what to expect from a first session: https://youtu.be/RiGIvbHpluE  

To read further on what to expect for a first therapy session, click here:  

https://www.verywellmind.com/psychotherapy-101-p2-1067403  

https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/faq/what-will-happen-in-my-first-therapy-session

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Upcoming Events

Nelson IAC
Sep 20 2021 - Sep 20 2021
02:00PM - 03:30PM
Crisis Services Coordinator
Sep 20 2021 - Sep 20 2021
06:00PM - 09:00PM
Crisis Services Coordinator
Sep 22 2021 - Sep 22 2021
06:00PM - 09:00PM
Crisis Services Training
Sep 26 2021 - Sep 26 2021
10:00AM - 04:00PM
Greene IAP
Sep 27 2021 - Sep 27 2021
10:00AM - 12:30PM

About SARA

The mission of the Sexual Assault Resource Agency (SARA) is to eliminate sexual violence and its impact by providing education, advocacy and support to men, women and children. Our vision is a community free from sexual violence.

Communities Served

We are located in Charlottesville, Virginia and serve:

  • City of Charlottesville
  • Albemarle County
  • Louisa County
  • Nelson County
  • Fluvanna County
  • Greene County

Contact SARA

 Charlottesville, Virginia

 24-Hour Hotline: 434-977-7273
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