If you’re considering seeking counseling help for any mental health challenges, you’ve already taken a major step toward managing the challenges you face. It’s natural to be nervous before your counseling session. To help mitigate your nerves ahead of time, it can be helpful to know what kind of questions you might be asked during your first session.
How to prepare for a mental health appointment
There are a number of ways to prepare for a session with a therapist, including knowing some of the general questions you may be asked, prepping your answers ahead of time and performing a mental health check-in to get a better sense of where you are currently and where you’d like to be.
Of course, you can’t anticipate every question ahead of time, but there are some general ones your therapist will most likely ask to get a better sense and understanding of you.
1. “Have you ever been to therapy or experienced a counseling environment before?”
This is one of the first questions you can expect from your therapist or counselor. Be prepared to share your experience — or lack — of therapy. Don’t worry if you have little, or even no experience working with a therapist or counselor; they’re only trying to gauge your familiarity with the process and to help you craft accurate expectations from day one.
If you have experienced a counseling environment before, you will likely be asked a few follow-up questions, like what you thought of your experience and whether or not you felt benefitted from past visits. This can help your therapist gain a better understanding of what did or did not work for you.
2. “What motivated you to attend therapy/counseling today?”
Your therapist will likely want to know what drove you to attend therapy in the first place. Many individuals attending therapy are self-motivated, deciding that now is the time to improve self-confidence, peace of mind and mental well-being. Other individuals attend therapy on the recommendation of family members, close friends, coworkers, peers or other loved ones.
Your reasons for attending counseling tell your therapist a lot about you and your situation. This is their opportunity to learn more about your own motivations and to grow even more familiar with the support system you have surrounding you, helping them to begin forming a personalized plan for your recovery journey.
3. “What does your home life look like?”
Our home life influences so much of who we are: it helps craft our personality, develops our tendencies and impacts the foods we eat and the people we spend our time with. A client’s home life can tell a therapist so much about their situation and their mental state.
Your therapist will also likely ask about the other individuals who share your home. Whether they are family members, roommates or friends, the individuals we spend time with can heavily influence our decision-making, habits and routines.
4. “What symptoms are you currently experiencing?”
You’re likely already anticipating this question. If you’re seeking out therapy or counseling, you probably have noticed symptoms in your life that do not align with good mental health. Keeping a list of symptoms can help you address all of them with your counselor, giving them a more rounded picture of your mental state.
No matter the mental health challenges you’re facing or the symptoms you’re experiencing, counseling can help you learn to manage these symptoms effectively and reach the freedom you’re hoping to achieve.
5. “What do you hope to accomplish from therapy?”
Lastly, don’t be afraid to tell your therapist about your goals — and not just therapy goals (although these are great!), but all the goals you have for your life. After all, therapy can help you reach freedom and accomplish goals that seem far off by guiding you to form and take concrete steps.
Whether you’re looking to achieve daily sobriety or open a business, let your therapist or your counselor know exactly what you hope to achieve from the therapy environment. Your expectations and your aspirations will inform your therapist’s actions and allow them to tailor sessions to specifically help you pursue your own dreams.
Questions to check in on your mental health
Before and after your sessions with your counselor, whether it’s your first time or tenth, there are additional questions you can ask to perform your own mental health assessment. The answers to these questions will not only give you a clearer idea of your mental state but may bring up areas of discussion you want to pursue with your counselor.
These questions can include:
- What was my mood like today? What happened to make it a good/bad day?
- What was my attitude toward Situation A like today? Did I handle it well, or not so great?
- What have I done today to improve my mental health? Did it work? What could I do better or differently?
- What made me feel alive today?
- What was one moment where I felt a particularly strong emotion? What emotion was it and why did I feel that way?
- Am I more peaceful or more on edge during the days?
Through these mental health assessments, you’ll be able to not only gain a great sense of self-awareness but continue to witness your strengths and weaknesses in healthy ways.
Get the mental health help you need today
Therapy can often mean the difference between taking positive, productive steps toward your goals or regressing back toward self-destructive behaviors. To begin your journey towards health and wellness, contact The Light Program at 610-644-6464 or by visit our website to learn more.