What to Expect in your First Art or Drama Therapy Session


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So you have made the decision to see an art or drama therapist.  First of all, it is normal to feel some anxiety about your first therapy session, especially if you have never done therapy before.  You are meeting with someone who is a perfect stranger to talk about your feelings and very personal issues.  This can feel scary for some people. Your therapist understands this and hopefully will be able to put you at ease.

What can you expect for your first session?

Your therapist will greet you in the designated waiting area for your appointment.  If you are a bit early, you can have a seat and wait until your therapist comes to greet you.  Often they will be in a meeting with someone else before hand and will come to find you at your appointment time.

Once you go into the office and have a chance to get seated, there will often be paperwork to complete.  The therapist will already have your appointment form containing the basic information, but may want to confirm some additional details.  This can help to break the ice.

The therapist may want to collect some basic information about you for your file and complete an informed consent form, which is a document that explains the framework of therapy- the frequency and duration of your sessions, the rules about confidentiality and information about fees and payment.  The informed consent is basically the contract between you and your therapist which describes how the two of you will work together.

More about Art and Drama Therapy:

Since you are seeking art or drama therapy, your therapist may use some other creative ways to help you tell your story.  Sometimes they may ask you to do a drawing, collage, role-play or write in a journal with a specific theme that they will suggest that allows you to express something about yourself and your reasons for seeking therapy. A drama therapist might engage you with a simple embodied activity such as locating where a specific emotion lives in your body or have you talk about the different conflicting feelings or thoughts you may have as if they were unhelpful internal “characters” or “roles” that influence your life.  It is important to remember that you don’t have to be an artist to do art or drama therapy- it is not the quality of your artistic abilities that is important.  The creative arts therapies can help you to express different parts of yourself that go beyond words alone.

It is normal to feel nervous about the idea of using art or drama initially, especially if you haven’t used this medium of expression for a long time.  Many people haven’t used drawing or other art forms since childhood so it can feel unfamiliar at first.  If you need additional instructions or suggestions to help get you started, your therapist is there to provide you with support and guidance as you explore this new way of expressing yourself.

If you are already engaged in some form of artistic expression, you may want to bring some examples of your work that may be relevant to your process to the sessions so that you can discuss these with your therapist.

Many therapists will keep your artwork for the duration of therapy so that you have a record of the process to refer back to and review as needed.  At the end of therapy, you can decide to leave your artwork with your therapist, or select some pieces to take with you.

Things your therapist may want to know about in the first (or first few) sessions:

This information will help to guide your therapist toward the best ways of working with you

  • Your family history.
  • Your current situation including important relationships, work or school, and daily habits.
  • How you are experiencing your symptoms: how long they have been present, and information about the timing of their onset.
  • Past experiences you may have had with therapy: if there was anything about your past experience that was particularly helpful or not.
  • More fully exploring your goals for therapy to understand better what you are hoping to get out of the experience.

Many therapists will view the first therapy session as an evaluation period.  The goal here is to get to know one another better and to see if you are a good fit.

One of the most important factors in therapy is that you feel comfortable with your therapist and that you feel like you are a good match.  Not every person clicks well with every therapist, and your therapist understands this.

Feel free to bring up your questions or concerns if there is something that you don’t feel so comfortable with or think that the therapist’s approach isn’t what you need.  We appreciate your feedback and your therapist wants to make sure that you get the best service possible.  Many times, with your input, the therapist is able to adapt his or her approach so that it may be more helpful for you, your personality style and your unique needs.

If for any reason, your therapist really doesn’t feel like a good fit, this is completely okay. Your therapist should be able to help facilitate a transfer to another professional, or if you prefer to contact our intake team to ask to be reassigned, we would be happy to help you find another professional on our team who would better suit your needs.