What to Expect at Your First Therapy Session For Anxiety

What to expect at my first counseling session

So, you have an appointment with an Anxiety Counselor for the first time and you don’t know what to expect. Naturally, this may bring about additional anxiety symptoms however, this is to be expected.


When you get to the office, your experience may be similar to a doctor’s appointment. You might sign in, sit in a waiting room, and wait for someone to call your name. If your therapist has a private practice, the environment might be a bit more casual and private.

Sometimes your therapist (this one included) will ask you to complete paperwork prior to your appointment. This allows them to review your concerns and background so they can have a better idea of your anxiety symptoms. This will also make better use of the time during the first session.

At the beginning of all first appointments, I always start by informing clients of the confidential nature of the relationship and how it works. I also explain to the client the situations in which I am legally required to break confidentiality. I believe this to be a crucial first step in delivering expectations as well as building trust.

Your First Anxiety Counseling Session

Your first session with your anxiety counselor will be different from future visits. The initial visit is simply an opportunity for you and your counselor to get to know each other, determine if it will be a good fit, and make a plan for moving forward.

Future visits will be more therapeutic in nature. I always tell clients, “Today we won’t be engaging in therapy. Today is just about getting to know each other, determining if we are a good fit and for me to gain a clear understanding of your anxiety and how it’s impacting your life. At the end, I encourage you to ask any questions of me.”

It’s important to realize you have the right to ask your anxiety therapist anything you want – no matter how trivial or silly you may believe it to be

Keep in mind that anxiety counseling usually requires multiple visits, so don’t expect any instant relief to your problems the first day. Anxiety therapy is about equipping you with life-long solutions and not a quick fix.

However, you should leave your first anxiety therapy session with an increased sense of hope that you are on the path to improvement.

During the first session, you may be asked questions like:

  • What triggered you to finally seek help for your anxiety?
  • How long have you experienced these anxiety symptoms?
  • How do you experience anxiety? (Everyone experiences anxiety differently)
  • You’ll also be asked questions about your history, including your childhood, education, relationships, career, and your current living situation.

Your anxiety counselor should clearly outline:

  • What to expect during sessions.
  • What to expect between sessions. (Often therapy brings up a lot of unexpected emotions. This is good, but it’s best to be prepared.)
  • The complete nature of confidentiality.
  • How long the process may take.

As mentioned earlier, I always allow clients to ask me whatever they want at the end of the first session (and really at any time) to be sure they leave feeling confident and hopeful about moving forward. It’s not easy to open up to a complete stranger about feelings that may cause us to feel embarrassed or ashamed. You should be comfortable, respected, valued, and accepted immediately.

For information and insights on how to find the right anxiety counselor, check out our article, “How To Find a Counselor Near Me?”


James Killian, LPC is an anxiety counselor in Woodbridge, CT and the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling where they help high achievers, over-thinkers and non-sleepers move From Surviving To Thriving. If you need help managing life’s stressors, contact us today for a free consultation!