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Whether you’re experiencing occasional anxiety or navigating relationship issues, deciding to seek mental health care is a huge step in the right direction.
As proud as you should be for prioritizing your mental health, it’s always best to prepare before your first session to make the most of your mental health journey. Instead of choosing the first therapist who you find and just showing up, here’s how to put the work in to achieve positive change.
Even though you might be eager to attend your first session, you shouldn’t feel pressured to settle for the first therapist you find online. To make the most out of your therapy sessions, it’s essential to find a good match who has the credentials, expertise, and experience to address your specific challenges.
To find a psychotherapist based on your personal preferences and requirements, spend some time researching different types of therapy and mental health professionals. Depending on your concerns, you might choose to work with a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, counselor, or family therapist. Additionally, if you’re seeking treatment for a specific mental health condition, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), consider researching common types of therapy used to treat that condition.
Next, write down your mental health concerns, how they’re affecting your quality of life, and what you’d like to get out of therapy. Do you want to develop stronger communication skills so you can navigate relationship issues and family conflicts? Do you want to work on your empathy and self-compassion?
After you’ve narrowed down your list of potential candidates, schedule some initial consultations. In your first session, you can ask your therapist about their therapeutic process, modalities, credentials, and anything else you’d like to know.
Psychotherapy isn’t just about sitting down, talking through your feelings, and leaving. Once you show up at your first session, your path to wellness becomes a team effort. Your psychologist is the guide, but you’re responsible for making progress toward your mental health goals.
If you’re afraid to let your therapist guide your therapy sessions—or if you’re feeling hesitant to open up about yourself—take a deep breath, trust the therapeutic process, and remember that therapy is all about your therapeutic relationship. The best treatment involves balancing seeking advice and guidance from your therapist and finding those answers independently.
Therapy sessions don’t exist in a vacuum. To work toward real, positive change in your daily life, you should implement the skills you’ve developed in psychotherapy into your day-to-day life.
Ask your psychologist about actionable ways to practice therapeutic techniques outside of your appointments.
For example, if you’re in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), your psychotherapist may provide homework assignments to complete between sessions to practice problem-solving in real situations. Alternatively, if you’re in psychodynamic therapy, your therapist may suggest keeping a journal to record your thoughts and feelings. Meanwhile, if you’re in couples counseling or family therapy, your counselor may recommend practicing healthier communication in challenging situations.
Therapy is hard work, and you’ll need to be open and honest with your psychotherapist to reach your mental health goals. If you have a hard time opening up about past trauma, negative thoughts, and problematic behaviors, you’re not alone. However, verbalizing your emotional problems and mental health challenges is essential to your recovery.
Remember: talk therapy is a safe space, and you should never feel ashamed or judged for your actions. If you don’t feel comfortable opening up to your therapist, it might be time to search for a new one.
Deciding to seek mental health care is just the first step. Whether you’re scheduling your first in-person appointment or starting online therapy, you’ll need to choose a good fit to make the most out of your sessions.
To find the best therapist for your unique mental health needs, reach out to a licensed therapist through WithTherapy. We’ll connect you to a psychotherapist you feel comfortable with, regardless of your personal preferences and requirements. One of the experienced, licensed mental health professionals on the WithTherapy platform will help you explore your treatment options, navigate your specific challenges, and start feeling better.