What to Expect in your First Online Therapy Session


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So you have made the decision to see a 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 will be speaking 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 online therapy session?

Your therapist will contact you via an application called VSee. The therapist will send you an invitation for this app, which explains how to set it up. The therapist will contact you at the time you have chosen for an online session. If you are a bit early getting online, don’t worry the therapist may be finishing up with another client and will log on at the time of your session.

Before the session begins, you will be sent a consent form by email, which you should look over carefully, and then follow the instructions to send your consent back via email. The therapist will already have your appointment form containing the basic information, but may want to confirm some additional details.

Sometimes clients may feel awkward or anxious about seeing a therapist on a screen rather than in an office. It is the job of the therapist to try and address those worries and help you feel as comfortable as possible. For you, the trick is to find a place that feels comfortable and confidential before the online session starts. In the same way that you would make sure there is as little distraction as possible in a therapist’s office, you need to do the same if you are calling in from elsewhere so that the focus is on you with as little distraction as possible. We want to make sure you are getting as much out of the sessions as possible. This is your time.

The therapist may want to collect some basic information about you for your file and go over the informed consent form with you in the event that you may have any questions or concerns. This document 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.

From here, different therapists will work in different ways.  Some may have a structured questionnaire that they will go through with you to do a full assessment of your symptoms and reasons for seeking therapy.  Other therapists prefer to work in a less structured way, opening with some variation of “What’s bringing you here?” or “Can you tell me more about your reasons for coming to therapy at this time?” and let the conversation flow from here.

It is important to know that there is no right or wrong way to tell your story.  Some people prefer to start at the beginning and go through their story chronologically.  Others prefer to start with the most pressing concern in the present moment and work backwards from there.  There are many different ways to approach your story and all of them are fine!

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.