Going to visit a psychologist for the first time can be nerve-wracking, especially if you’ve never had therapy before. Talking about feelings or difficult issues isn’t always easy, but going in for talk therapy doesn’t have to mean jumping into the difficult issues on your first visit. An initial visit with a psychologist is an opportunity for both you and the therapist to get to know each other a little bit. A well-trained and compassionate psychotherapist understands that some people need to take it slow, and they won’t push you to talk about anything you’re not ready to discuss. If you’re thinking about trying therapy but you’re intimidated about making your first appointment, it may help to know a little bit about what to expect. Take a look below at some of the questions your psychologist might ask.  


Why did you choose to come today?

The therapist will want to know if there’s some specific reason you’ve chosen to seek therapy. This could be a new job that feels overwhelming, the sudden breakup of a relationship, or difficulty coping with everyday stressors. It’s ok if you don’t have a specific reason or major issue you’re dealing with. Many people go to therapy to gain a deeper understanding of themselves or to learn new communication skills.  Even if you don’t know for sure why you’ve decided to make an appointment with a psychologist, most therapists are pretty good at asking the questions that help people gain insight into their choices and behaviors. 


Have you ever tried therapy before?

When a new therapist asks you if you’ve tried therapy before, if you answer yes, they’ll want to know what has worked for you in the past, and what hasn’t. There are many different types of therapy, and many different approaches to establishing relationships with clients.  Some therapists take a more clinical approach, while others lean toward warm and casual. What works for one client may not work for another. Whether you’ve had a great relationship with a previous therapist, or a difficult time with a previous type of therapy, this information can help your new psychologist learn more about what might be most effective in your treatment.  And if you’ve never tried therapy before, the psychologist will use this time to explain the structure and process of their therapeutic approach. 


What are your goals for therapy?

Although this may sound like the first question above, it’s actually quite different from the point of view of the psychologist. When the psychologist asks, “Why did you come today?” what they want to know is what problems you’re struggling with.  But when they ask about your goals, they’re asking you to share your expectation of them and of yourself. They’re also asking you to imagine positive changes you’d like to see. Psychologists are trained to help get you closer to your goals. And the first step on that journey is understanding what they are. 


What is your family’s mental health history?

When a family member has mental health issues, it can result in a stressful home environment, innvolve childhood trauma, or make you more vulnerable to developing mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety.  You won’t need to tell all the details of your family history in your first visit with the psychologist if you’re not comfortable doing so, but if you can provide an overview, it may give your therapist insight into some of your emotions, thoughts, behaviors, and coping mechanisms.    

If you’re new to therapy or are not comfortable talking about your personal struggles, you may experience some discomfort during the first visit. It’s ok to voice this. The psychologist will not take it personally and will probably even appreciate your openness. A well-trained, compassionate, and experienced therapist will not scare easily. They’re trained to help create a sense of ease and comfort with speaking honestly, and they understand that some people take more time to open up. 


Looking for a psychologist in San Diego? We can help.

At Pacific Health Systems San Diego, we’re dedicated to high quality patient care. Our psychologists are compassionate and experienced mental health practitioners who are committed to helping patients gain insight into their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, and develop the tools and skills they need to reach their goals and live their best lives. For more information on our psychology services in San Diego or to schedule an appointment, give us a call at 619-267-9257 today.