How to Start Going to Therapy?

By Cristian G. •  Updated: 12/20/22 •  10 min read
How to Start Going to Therapy?

Starting therapy can be a helpful and positive step towards improving your mental health and well-being. Remember, seeking help for mental health issues is a sign of strength, and start going to therapy does not mean that a person is weak or flawed.

First of all, identify your needs, consider why you want to start therapy and what do you hope to gain from it. This will help you understand what type of therapy or therapist is best for you.

Now that you know that type of therapy or what is your goal, you can start asking for recommendations from your primary care doctor, online directories, or using a mental health app. It’s important to find a therapist that is licensed, experienced, and has a good reputation.

We can help you find the best online therapist for your needs and preferences, we reviewed all the online therapy services available and we sorted them for different therapy options, so you can get matched with a specialized therapist.

After you find your therapist, schedule your first session. We know the first time talking to a therapist can be overwhelming that’s why wrote in the next section of this article what is the typical initial assessment, how to prepare and more information on how to get the most of your sessions.

It’s normal to feel nervous or anxious before your start going to therapy. We recommend focusing on what you want to discuss during the session and to bring any notes or documents that may be relevant.

During the first session, the therapist may ask you questions about your goals, your concerns and challenges, and your personal history. Be honest and open.

To see progress you might need to take some time, so be patient and consistent in your sessions.

If you don’t feel like you are making progress or if you don’t feel comfortable with your therapist, it’s okay to try a different therapist or change the approach.

Therapists may work with individuals, couples, families, or groups, and may specialize in specific areas, such as anxiety, depression, addiction, or trauma. They may work in a variety of settings, including private practice, hospitals, clinics, schools, and community centers.

What is a typical first session of therapy?

A typical first session of therapy, also known as an intake session or initial assessment, is an opportunity for you and the therapist to get to know each other and for the therapist to gather information about your concerns and goals for therapy.

During the session, the therapist will likely ask you a series of questions to better understand your current situation and any challenges or issues you are experiencing.

The therapist may ask about your personal and family history, your relationships and support system, your physical and emotional health, and any past experiences with therapy or mental health treatment.

It’s important to be open and honest with the therapist during this session and to share as much information as you feel comfortable. It’s also important to remember that therapy is a collaborative process and you and the therapist will work together to set goals and determine the best course of treatment.

The first session is also an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have and to discuss any concerns or reservations you have about starting therapy. The therapist can help address any fears or doubts you may have and can provide more information about the therapy process.

How to prepare for the first therapy session?

It’s natural to feel anxious or nervous before your start going to therapy, especially if you have never been to therapy before.

Here are some things you can do to prepare for your first therapy session:

  • Write down your goals and make a list of topics to discuss.
  • Bring any relevant documents, such as records or medications that can be helpful.
  • Think about what you want to know about your therapist approach, expertise or education.

Finally, don’t be late to your session and remember that it’s okay to feel nervous. And open your mind and be honest. It may take some time to get comfortable with the process and to build trust. But with time and effort, therapy can be very valuable and rewarding for your mental health.

How to get the most out of therapy?

There are many different approaches to therapy, and the specific format and goals of therapy may vary depending on the individual therapist and your specific needs. However, there are some general things you can expect from therapy:

  • A safe, confidential space to talk: Therapy provides a safe and confidential space where you can talk openly and honestly about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
  • A collaborative process: Therapy is a collaborative process between you and the therapist. You and the therapist will work together to set goals for therapy and to determine the best course of treatment.
  • An opportunity to explore your thoughts and feelings: Therapy provides an opportunity to explore and better understand your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The therapist may ask you questions or provide exercises to help you gain insight into your experiences.
  • Skills and tools for coping: Therapy can provide you with new skills and tools for coping with challenges and for improving your mental health and well-being.
  • Support and guidance: The therapist can offer support and guidance as you work through difficult emotions and experiences and can help you develop strategies for managing and improving your mental health.

What should I ask my therapist?

It’s important to feel comfortable, and to have an open and honest relationship with your therapist and to have a good understanding of their approach to therapy. If you have any concerns or reservations about therapy, it’s important to bring them up and discuss them with them.

Here are 17 questions you may want to ask your therapist during your first session or at any point during treatment:

  1. What is your background and experience?
  2. How long have you been practicing?
  3. What licenses and certifications do you have and which professional organizations do you belong to?
  4. How much do you charge? What are you sliding-scale options?
  5. How many clients have you had with similar circumstances to my own? When was the last time you worked with someone similar to me?
  6. Describe your ideal patient.
  7. What can I expect from therapy? What is typical session like? How long are the sessions?
  8. How can I make the most of my sessions? How do I prepare for my first session?
  9. How will we determine if therapy is helpful? How do you set up counseling goals? What are they like? What is success for you?
  10. How will we address my specific concerns and goals?
  11. Is there anything I should do or not do outside of sessions? What kind of homework/reading do you give patients?
  12. What are your strengths and limitations as a counselor?
  13. What is your general philosophy and approach to helping? Are you more directive or more guiding?
  14. Have you been in therapy yourself? How recently?
  15. How often do you seek peer consultation?
  16. How often would you anticipate seeing me? For how long?
  17. How will we end therapy?

How does online therapy work?

Online therapy, also known as teletherapy, is a way to receive mental health treatment through the internet, usually through video conferencing or messaging. Online therapy can be a convenient and effective option for individuals who may not have access to in-person therapy or who prefer the flexibility and convenience of receiving treatment remotely.

Here is a general overview of how online therapy works:

  • Initial consultation: The process often begins with an initial consultation with a therapist, during which you can discuss your goals for therapy and the therapist can assess your needs and determine if online therapy is appropriate for you.
  • Setting up the technology: If you and the therapist decide to move forward with online therapy, you will need to set up the necessary technology, such as a computer or smartphone with a webcam and a secure and fast internet connection.
  • Scheduling sessions: You and the therapist will schedule regular therapy sessions, which typically take place via video conferencing or messaging.
  • Receiving treatment: During the therapy sessions, you will work with the therapist to discuss your thoughts, feelings, and experiences and to develop coping strategies and skills to improve your mental health and well-being.
  • Tracking progress: The therapist may ask you to complete assessments or track your progress in order to measure the effectiveness of the treatment.

It’s important to note that online therapy is not appropriate for everyone and may not be suitable for individuals experiencing certain types of mental health challenges or crises. It’s important to discuss any concerns you have with the therapist and to follow their guidance regarding the appropriateness of online therapy for your specific needs.

What does a therapist do?

Therapists are trained mental health professionals who help people cope with and overcome mental health challenges and improve their overall well-being. They use a variety of techniques and approaches to help people explore their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and to develop strategies for coping with challenges and improving their mental health.

Why is starting therapy so hard?

Starting therapy can be difficult for many people for a variety of reasons, like: stigma, cost, time, accessibility, fear or anxiety, belief that therapy won’t help.

Why should I consider therapy?

There are many reasons why you might consider therapy, including: coping with a mental health condition such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and more. As well as to work with many difficult emotions and experiences, improve relationships, make positive changes and lear new coping skills.

What should I look for in a therapist?

Consider your therapist training and qualifications, their experience and specialities, their approach to therapy, your comfort levels and their availability.

I don’t want to go to therapy! What should I do?

It’s understandable that you might be hesitant to start therapy, especially if you have never been to therapy before or if you are feeling anxious or uncertain about the process. Here are a few things you can consider: take some time to think about why you are resistant to therapy, think about the potential benefits of therapy and how it might help you cope with any challenges or issues you are facing, talk to someone you trust and take small steps if you are feeling overwhelmed.

I can’t afford therapy! What should I do?

If you are unable to afford therapy, there are several options. You can consider checking with your insurance coverage, there are many insurance plans that cover some or all of the cost of therapy. There are also many therapists that offer reduced fees for individuals who are unable to pay the full fee. Online therapy can be a more affordable option, as it often costs less than in-person therapy. There may be financial assistance programs or grants available to help you pay for therapy.

How does therapy work? What to expect?

There are many different approaches to therapy, and the specific format and goals of therapy may vary depending on the individual therapist and the specific needs of the client. In general, therapy is a safe, confidential space to talk. It’s a collaborative process, an opportunity to explore your thoughts and feelings, and to learn skills and tools for coping with your therapist support and guidance.


  1. “The efficacy of psychotherapy: an overview.” Wampold, B. E. (2001). Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 8(3), 362-371.
  2. “Effectiveness of psychotherapy for adults: a meta-analysis.” Leichsenring, F., & Rabung, S. (2008). Journal of the American Medical Association, 300(13), 1551-1565.
  3. “A meta-analysis of the efficacy of psychological interventions for people with depression.” Cuijpers, P., van Straten, A., Andersson, G., & van Oppen, P. (2008). Journal of Affective Disorders, 108(1-2), 11-23.

Cristian G.