So you’ve just booked your first therapy appointment. You may be nervous. You may be curious. You may even feel lost.
But the question is: What should you do next?
Should you begin journaling? Should you tell a close friend? Or is it better to do nothing at all?
In today’s post, I’m going to share with you 5 important things to do after you’ve booked your first therapy appointment (step-by-step).
This is Where it All Begins
Many people who are new to therapy may think that booking their first appointment is enough.
Believe it or not, therapy involves a lot of work. And some of it can be completed before you attend your very first appointment.
Specifically, there are things you can do today in order to help increase the success of what you’re trying to accomplish in therapy.
Begin to identify your personal strengths, resources, and current coping skills/ good habits. This is very helpful for your therapist to know as these topics typically come up often.
If nothing comes to mind, don’t worry, simply Google these words and millions of ideas will come up.
You can also take a look here for some ideas:
- Good listener
- Easy going
- Friends and family
- Supportive programs
Coping Skills/ Good Habits
- Deep breathing or prayer
- Drawing or painting
- Exercise or meditation
See that you visit your primary care physician (PCP) if you haven’t had a physical within the last year. Many mental health symptoms can occur from medical issues. This is extremely helpful information to know ahead of time.
If you do not have a PCP at this time, see if there are any nearby urgent cares. Many of these medical facilities take most insurances as most people use urgent cares for physicals.
Things to keep in mind for medical appointments:
- Lab work is always helpful (e.g., getting blood drawn), especially if you’re interested in getting psychotropic medication ( aka meds for mental health).
- Be aware of any changes in weight or diet. Many mental health symptoms correlate with weight loss/ gain.
- Advocate on your own behalf by asking direct questions to the physician. Ask anything you may think will be beneficial for both you and your therapist to know.
Write down significant moments in your life. These can be anything important that comes to memory: stories, events, situations and anything in-between.
These do not need to be written out in complete detail, the gist of it is enough to get started. This information will not only be helpful for your treating therapist, but will be helpful for you as the client to jog your memory.
If you’re finding it difficult to write out specific items, here are a few areas where you can start:
- Childhood memories
- Earliest memories
- Educational milestones
- Teenage memories
- Family holidays
- Employment history
- Young adulthood
- Significant accomplishments
- Good, bad and the ugly
Begin to track what your bedtime routine looks like. This is helpful information for both you and your therapist to monitor.
All humans need adequate sleep. Sleep is often overlooked when it comes to mental health therapy. So, providing your therapist with this information can benefit treatment.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- How long does it take to fall asleep?
- How long do you stay asleep?
- Do you wake up earlier than expected?
- Is your sleeping space filled with bright lights?
- Do you take any sleep aids? Zzzquil? Melatonin?
- Do you take any prescribed medication at night?
The more questions and answers you come up with the better.
Begin to identify both short-term and long-term goals. You may have already discussed some of this with your therapist before booking your first appointment.
This process of listing out these goals helps give your therapist some direction in your treatment. It’s better to have some idea where you’re headed than no direction at all.
If you find this process difficult, consider the following:
- What would you consider your ideal self?
- What is your proudest accomplishment?
- Where in your life do you feel incomplete?
- What do you feel needs to change in your life?
- What do you consider a meaningful life?
- What is the most doable objective to complete?
- What’s most important to you in this moment?
Therapy can be perceived as this clouded process where you may not be sure what’s going to happen. However, gathering this information will be extremely beneficial for your treatment.
That’s why the tips from this post—like identifying strengths, your bedtime routine, and personal goals—can be so helpful for your first appointment.
Now I want you to take some action:
What will you take from this post? Was there anything helpful you can use during your own therapy journey?
Take a moment and begin trying these steps today.