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  • Anna Yam, Ph.D.

4 Things You Should Know Before Your First Therapy Appointment

Updated: Feb 15, 2020

Two women talking, in a therapy session

You have decided to go to therapy, excellent! It is almost never too soon. Most of us wait and suffer for too long before we get the help we need.

Maybe it’s your first time, or you’ve been to therapy in the past. Either way, it helps to be prepared. Before your first therapy appointment, here are four things you should know.

Is therapy covered by your health insurance?

To find out, contact your health insurance carrier (Anthem, Cigna, etc.) and ask for details about mental health coverage (sometimes called “behavioral health”). You should ask:

  • what specific services are covered,

  • how many sessions are covered,

  • and about deductibles and co-pays.

When you use health insurance to pay for therapy, your provider has to submit information about your condition to the insurance company. Be sure you are comfortable with that.

If you are paying out of pocket, you should know the provider’s rate. Though therapy arrangements vary, you should generally be comfortable paying that rate once per week.The same is true of any co-pay you have through your insurance.

Therapy is about “fit”

Therapy is personal, that is what makes it effective. When selecting a therapy provider, you should feel like you can work with them on the issues that you are hoping to address. Do they have the appropriate expertise and does their interpersonal style work for you? In general, in order to feel comfortable you should feel like your provider is “in your corner.”

To get the most out of therapy, be prepared to work

It is best to begin therapy expecting to do emotional work, and in most cases also behavioral work. Emotional work typically entails processing complex thoughts and emotions, including ones you might have been avoiding. Behavioral work means doing something between therapy sessions that furthers your therapy goals.

Therapy is personalized and personal

There is only one you. Even if you have similar problems as someone else, what “worked” for a friend may not work for you. You might see results more rapidly, or more slowly than others. Many many factors impact therapy outcomes, and each one is specific to you. That is why therapy tailored to your needs is the magic sauce for amazing positive change.

If you have questions about your first therapy appointment, please don’t hesitate to ask your provider. Providers vary in terms of their process and approach. If you’d like to know what to expect, they can help you get acquainted.

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