Things to remember if you’re nervous in therapy

I recently wrote a post on why I love therapy. But I’ve not always loved it. My first private therapy session was agony. I was super ill that day, I had a rotten cold, I’d been asleep practically all day and I woke up around 2 hours before I was due to leave and I felt really dizzy. I also couldn’t eat anything because I was so nervous and it was in the middle of summer and was boiling hot. So all around, a perfect cocktail for your very first therapy session with a brand new therapist. I have never felt nerves like that before, I literally couldn’t function. But coming out of that session an hour later, I felt like an entirely new person. Nervous? Me? Not a chance.

 I know, first hand, how terrifying a prospect it can be going to therapy or counselling or whatever you want to call it. Not knowing who your therapist is going to be, whether you’re going to like them, what the environment is going to be like. Is it in their house? A centre? An office? What happens if I have an anxiety attack? What if I can’t talk? What if it’s a waste of money or time? What if, what if, what if. Anxiety can cause the ‘what if’s’ in this world to dominate your every thought sometimes. So today I wanted to write a little post on things you should remember if you’re about to embark on your first therapy session. Or even if you’re on your 3rd or 4th but still find yourself incredibly nervous about going.

Tell them that you’re nervous: They probably deal with anxiety every single day of their working lives; they know that many people who walk through their door is going to be anxious as crap. So tell them. It won’t be anything new to them and they will be able to take the correct steps to then ensure your anxiety is kept at bay.

And tell them exactly how you’re feeling at that moment in time: I told my therapist in my first session that I felt very ill and rough and she was very accommodating to that. Not just mentally but emotionally and physically too, if you’re not feeling 100%, do tell them.

Take a bottle of water with you: Water is my saving grace sometimes. I find water very relaxing and often, when I’m anxious, I’ll take sips of a bottle of water which I always keep in my bag. Ask if they mind if you can drink it throughout the session; chances are they will be fine with it and if you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a step back and have a drink. Keep yourself hydrated.

Open a door or window if you’re feeling trapped, hot or claustrophobic: I get super hot when I’m anxious. And I find it incredibly difficult to cool don. Oh and did I mention my therapist always had her heating on like, full?! I always asked if she would mind opening a window to get some air in the room and it always made a huge difference. If you can, and feel like the extra air or space will keep you calmer, then ask.

Take it slow and go at your own pace: It’s so easy to ramble and ramble through what’s bothering you at therapy sessions because you just want to get it all out, not miss anything out and basically get it over and done with but it’s so important to take things at your own speed. They can’t force you to say anything and they definitely can’t force you to say anything you don’t want to say. So if you need a minute to sit, think and reflect, then do. They will understand and will accommodate to your needs.

Remember that you’re there for your own benefit: You’re not there to punish yourself – you’re there to help yourself get better, understand yourself more and be open to honest and professional advice so you can constantly improve your own mental health. If you can try and banish the idea that counselling is intimidating, scary and negative then it’ll help so much in the long run!

If you have any tips or tricks on how to stay calmer during therapy sessions, I’d love to hear them. If you’ve had therapy and feel comfortable doing so, I’d love to hear about your first experience. Was it good or bad? Let me know!

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41 thoughts on “Things to remember if you’re nervous in therapy

  1. This is a great post! My anxiety is really getting the better of me lately and I know I need to go back to therapy but my anxiety is making it too hard to pick up the phone! But these are fantastic tips, sipping water is a great idea.

  2. Really needed to read this, great advice. I will be moving onto a new therapist soon and I’m getting anxious about starting all over again with a new person and I am worrying about it already. I’ll try and remember these tips before I go xx

  3. This is a really fantastic post, and really useful for anyone who isn’t sure what to expect. Therapy is fantastic, but it is also very daunting, so being able to calm down those emotions and regain control and feel comfortable is so important.

    Really good post lovely πŸ™‚

    • Thanks so much and I agree it can be SO daunting at first it’s so easy to let you mind wander and wander and expect the worse and work yourself up into a frenzy. It’s really important to have coping and calming mechanisms in place, whatever they are! πŸ™‚ Thank you for commenting xx

  4. Excellent tips & insights!
    I’d suggest with extreme nerves, bring something to put that energy (nervousness) in. A fidget toy for example, I’ve used: rocks, children’s toys, small pieces of pottery/clay shaped with edges and ridges… etc. Find what works for you!

  5. This is a really important topic. I remember how I felt in my first session, my mouth was dry, I felt like I should just walk back out and like they’d decide I was making it all up but once I sat down and took a few deep breaths, it all started to fall into place and everything was ok. The first one is always the hardest. And the last, when you feel like you’re losing the only person holding you together xx

    Sophia x http://sophiawhitham.co.uk

    • You’ve just given me a great idea for another post! The what to do at the OTHER side of the therapy experience, when it all finishes. Because you’re so right. That can be almost as daunting as starting in the first place. It soon falls into place though. Thank you for commenting ❀ xx

    • Yes, absolutely! I always feel so much better as soon as I’ve told someone I’m nervous. I do the same at the doctors, dentist, opticians – anywhere. If I’m nervous, I’m sure the professional would prefer to know! Thanks for commenting πŸ™‚ xx

    • I really, really hope it does help at least one person! I figure if you need or want therapy and know it will benefit you, you shouldn’t let nerves stop you getting the help that you deserve. I’d hate to think someone was missing out on this vital help because of nerves! Thanks for commenting πŸ™‚ xx

  6. Hi, thanks for sharing this post and putting in a positive light. Hopefully it will help others to take the courage to see someone if they need to, Chloe #TeacupClub

    • I really hope it does encourage someone! I don’t think anyone should look at therapy in a negative light – it’s one of the most beneficial things we can do for ourselves! Thanks for commenting πŸ™‚ xx

    • You should go! I know I’m only a stranger on the internet and aren’t qualified to give you advice but if multiple people thing you’ll benefit then you probably will! It’s a big step but an important one and once that initial hurdle is over, it all falls into place I promise. Thanks for commenting xx

  7. I was terrified about my first therapy session, but luckily, I had an absolutely wonderful counsellor. These are really good tips, I wish I slowed down though, as soon as I started talking it all just started coming out at once! x

    • Haha I totally get that, it’s difficult to stop sometimes isn’t it? But I guess that’s better than not saying anything at all and shows you’re comfortable with your counsellor! Thank you for commenting (: xx

  8. Great points you gave there. That would be very helpful for a first timer. I should have seen something like this before I went to my first therapy.
    I was so nervous waiting outside my therapist’s office. I arrived 15 minutes earlier and she told me to wait. The wait made it even worse.
    By the time I got in, all my nerves just disappeared. She was pleasant and made the whole atmosphere comfortable.
    So I will add, sometimes the therapist’s personality may help with the nerves.

  9. This is such a great post. I have never ever done therapy until recently! And it’s tough. I found that being honest and projecting my thoughts helps, so when I am nervous or self-conscious I will vocally say it to the therapist, all in all it’s been a very helpful thing for me!

    • Ah I’m so glad you find that helpful too, they’re there to help with very problems like anxiety and nervousness so I don’t know why you wouldn’t tell them if that’s how you’re feeling! I’m glad you’ve found it helpful so far! xx

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  12. These tips are so good! Sometimes the idea of talking about my anxiety can be so overwhelming that I just clam up and can’t get the words out. I always bring water with me as like you said it does help. Yes I think I will take your advice and try slow down and go at my own pace, sometimes I put too much pressure on myself to say everything at once!!

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  14. I think perhaps it can help to remember that the therapist is likely to have had their own experience of beginning therapy and remember how nerve-wracking it can be to take that step. As you say, explaining you’re nervous can really help and, if you’re worried you might not be able to do that then writing something down can be good (even if it’s just to have there in case you get overwhelmed). There are even apps like DocReady that you can use. It’s intended for talking about your mental health at GP appointments but could be used to make a little list for a first therapy session too.

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