What to expect from your first CBT appointment
If you’ve decided to sign up for online CBT, you might find yourself wondering what will happen during your first session. If you’re feeling a bit anxious, that’s perfectly normal – almost everyone is apprehensive before trying something new and different, but understanding what’s in store can help you feel ready. Here’s what you can expect the first time you ‘meet’ your therapist.
When you join the session you’ll see a text box, which is where you’ll type your message. Your therapist may start by saying ‘hello’, but don’t be afraid to get in there first!
An introduction. Your therapist might give you some information about Ieso’s service, and explain how the session will go. They may spend some time getting to know you and the situation you’re in before diving in to talk about your difficulties.
Lots and lots of questions! CBT is a very active process, and it’s also highly collaborative, with you and the therapist working as a team. Before the session, you’ll have filled in a self-assessment questionnaire. Your therapist will have read this but they may want more details or specifics on the problem you’re experiencing.
They might ask: “What is the problem that brought you to CBT?” “How often do you experience it?” “Where and when do you experience it?” “How long has it been a problem for?”
It’s unlikely the therapist will ask you lots about your past history, as CBT tends to be focused on the ‘here and now’.
After your therapist has asked a question, you can think about your response before typing in your reply. Typing might feel a bit strange at first, but this is very effective – don’t underestimate the power of written communication! The format gives you the chance to reflect on your responses, and helps to embed what you’re learning.
Discussing an example of your problem. CBT uses lots of real examples, so the therapist may dedicate some time to talking through a recent instance which illustrates the main difficulty you want to address. Thinking of an example in advance could help you get the most out of the session.
Checking how it’s going so far. Towards the end of the appointment the therapist will explain what CBT is and how it works, then ask for feedback on what you think of CBT and how you’ve found working online. Try to be as honest as you can, and if you need time to think about your answer that’s fine – just let the therapist know.
Once the session is over, you may think the time has flown by, or you might have found the pace a bit slow; each person will experience treatment differently. You may feel quite drained afterwards, so it’s a good idea to plan some R&R time. Perhaps take a look at this blog on how you might feel after your first CBT session.
Don’t worry if you didn’t get the chance to say everything you wanted – with online CBT you can message your therapist in between sessions.
Because the first session is geared towards putting in place the foundations of your treatment, you won’t necessarily feel better. You could feel relief and hope, having started the process, but it’s possible you’ll feel a bit worse as you’ve brought your problems out into the open. Whatever you feel, it’s okay – and after a few sessions you’ll have a clearer understanding of your difficulties, and have learned some techniques for managing them.
Each therapist will have their own particular style, and they’ll also adapt sessions to how you respond, so don’t be concerned if your first appointment feels a bit different to what’s described here.
If you like the idea of getting prepared in advance, you might find our blog on three things to help you get started is useful.