6 Things to Prepare You for Your First Therapy Session

Jan 2, 2024

So you’ve finally decided to try therapy. Congratulations! Scheduling a session with a Tava therapist is a solid first step toward meaningful change and a clear indication that you are ready to take charge of your mental health.

If you’ve never been in therapy before, it’s natural to feel curious, nervous, and excited as you anticipate your first therapy session. You probably have questions about the process, the person you’ll be speaking with, and what might come up in session. Rest assured, this is completely normal, and the good news is that many clients who feel anxious going into their first session feel at ease by the end. Here are a few quick tips to help you prepare for your therapeutic journey:

Before your session:

1. Reflect on where you’d like to see change in your life.

A desire for change in one or more areas of life is the number one reason people seek therapy. Maybe you’re feeling more anxious or depressed lately, and you’d like to learn how to better manage these feelings. Maybe you’re struggling with relationships, work-life balance, past trauma, or you just feel stuck and aren’t sure how to move forward. Maybe you’re doing really well and are ready to create new goals for your future.

Whatever you want to change, spend some time thinking about potential areas of focus to discuss with your therapist. If you’ve been to therapy before, think about what worked (or didn’t) last time, and share this with your therapist. If you’re not exactly sure what you want to work on, that’s okay too. Talking through this with your therapist can help both of you come up with a collaborative plan that feels good to you.

2. Create a list of questions.

Attending therapy for the first time can feel daunting, but remember that your therapist is pro-you and eager to help you realize your goals. Prepare some questions or thoughts in advance that you can refer to throughout the session, keeping in mind that you may not be able to get to all of them on the first day.

All questions are valid, so don’t be shy about asking for more information or clarification on your therapist’s training, their approach, and how they can help. Organizing your thoughts in this way can go a long way toward easing some of your pre-session jitters.

3. Complete the survey.

Prior to your session, you’ll be invited to complete a short survey that will help your therapist better understand your current mental state and the degree to which you might be struggling. Consistently filling out the assessment before each of your future sessions helps to track changes, identify concerns to focus on in each session, and can assist your therapist in tailoring sessions to your specific needs.

Day of Your Session:

4. Prepare your external space.

You’ll want to set yourself up for success before your first therapy session by making sure you have at least a full hour to yourself, preferably alone and in a quiet place. Log in early and make sure your internet connection, microphone, and video camera are all functioning properly. Video sessions tend to work best on Google Chrome with all other tabs/applications closed. If your Wi-Fi connection is weak, try moving closer to your router. If you choose to attend your session via smartphone, make sure your battery is fully charged so you don’t lose your therapist mid-session. To make sure your therapist can see you, position yourself so that your light source shines on your face rather than from behind. Finally, it’s a really good idea to keep paper and pen nearby. You can gain much more from therapy if you regularly take notes and review them after each session.

5. Prepare your internal space.

It’s common to experience strong emotions before, during and even after your session. Unlike pretty much everywhere else, therapy is the perfect place to talk about things like feeling nervous, embarrassed or angry. You can even talk about not wanting to be there if that’s what you’re feeling! The important thing is that you come willing to talk. These emotions hold important information and are exactly what will guide you and your therapist through the healing process.

If strong emotions come up during your session, your therapist will typically work with you to make sure you feel balanced and ready to resume your day before you sign off. Even so, you may notice some emotion lingering after your session. If you anticipate working on particularly sensitive topics, consider leaving time for yourself after your session, or even scheduling it outside of your normal day if possible.

Rest assured that experiencing strong emotions is in no way wrong and can be a healthy part of the healing process. If emotions become overwhelming at any point, please discuss this with your therapist so that they can provide tools to help manage them.

Read more about what to expect from therapy

6. Keep expectations flexible.

People often arrive at their first session with a lot of preconceived ideas about what therapy should look like, and are sometimes surprised to find that it’s not what they expected. The first session, also known as an intake session, involves a lot of questions and information gathering from your therapist.

You may feel anxious to move on to directly address specific issues with your therapist, but it is crucial for your therapist to understand not just who you are as an individual, but also your personal context and history. This will lay an important foundation for the work that you will do together in future sessions. Keep in mind that while you may feel significant changes early in your therapeutic journey, truly improving mental health takes work, and it can take time.

It’s also important to think about your relationship with your therapist. Research has shown that this relationship is perhaps the biggest predictor of success in therapy. It’s important that you feel seen, heard, and understood so that you can show up fully.

The same can also be true about your relationship with your therapist. It’s important that you feel seen, heard, and understood so that you can show up fully. However, this relationship can take time to develop. If you have concerns about your therapist or their approach, bring it up with them. Often this can strengthen your relationship as you work together over a few sessions. If, after that, the two of you are still not “clicking,” you have the option to log in to your account and switch therapists.

Read more about what to look for in a therapist

Final Thoughts:

Once again, congratulations for making the courageous, life-changing choice to sign up for therapy. Good luck with your first session. We hope that it will be the start of an incredible journey to being your best self.

Remember that we are here to help with any questions or concerns! Reach out to us at , or via online chat at

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