The first time you meet with a therapist can be weird. Here is this complete stranger asking you to share your secrets - the stuff that's really hard to talk about. How are you supposed to do that?
The therapist's role is to help you feel safe, to be someone you can trust with the hard stuff.
Here are some things I do in the first session to create a safe space and make things a little less weird:
Check in to make sure you're OK. I may read your facial expressions or body language, but most likely I will ask, "Are you OK? You seem really sad (or angry or frustrated.)" I know you might not be ready to be completely honest yet, but I want you to know I can handle the icky stuff. And if you are not dong OK, then it's my job to start here and get you stable.
Chat about things that interest you. Early on I am also likely to tell you what I like so we can find some common ground. If we both like nu metal, or we both hate football we are closer to building a connection.
Review your intake paperwork. I do read all the forms I send out and I want you to know your concerns were heard. You don't have to say it all over again and instead we can start to go a little deeper.
Answer any questions you may have. If you are new to therapy you might wonder about the structure of the session, the logistics of cancelling or rescheduling, and what I can or cannot share with someone else. If you've seen a therapist before, You might want to know how I will be different and will I do that thing you hated? Your questions also let men know what is working and what isn't so I can adapt.
Begin talking about what brings you to therapy. I can get a lot of information from the paperwork, but I can't get the emotions that you were feeling. I also don't know what's on your mind today. This part helps me understand how you show up and how you like to work.
In my experience, it takes about 4 sessions to build the trust necessary to share deeply. If you think you are ready, let's meet!