Taking The First Steps In CBT Therapy – 5 Step Guide

Taking The First Steps In CBT Therapy

Starting therapy can be daunting but don’t worry every experienced therapist will have also been in your position so they know how you feel and will set you at ease.

Not knowing what questions will be asked is one of the first concerns, which are why I’ve put this blog together. The first step when someone attends their first session is to run through some basic information this settles you and takes some pressure off. The basic information is – full name, date of birth, address, how you found me and GP information for example. So the first few minutes are easy. People often say that they thought they would struggle but they find it easier than expected.

I’ve put together this 5 step guide of questions to ask yourself before your first therapy session, which will further help you in the process, these points are based on a CBT approach but can be helpful things to think about even if it’s a different therapeutic approach you are considering. They cover the general questions you may be asked by your therapist

  • Step 1 – Consider the main areas you would like help with and why this is so important for you. Consider if there was there a starting point or trigger to the issue or problem.  what is the impact on your life?


  • Step 2 – What do you hope to get out of sessions – What are your goals? I often ask if therapy was successful for you how would you know? What would be different in your life? Having an end goal of therapy can be useful as can have smaller goals so you have a sense of direction and structure to what you are working on.


  • Step 3 – Do you have any concerns or worries about starting therapy? It would be unusual to not have any concerns and your therapist will support you in working through them.


  • Step 4 – What if I don’t connect with my therapist or I decide it’s not right for me?  It is so important that you feel comfortable with your therapist and have a sense they can help you,  not one therapist can be right for everyone, it’s a very personal choice, therapist are not offended they are in the caring profession because they want the best for people, let them know it might be useful to explore the issues or ask to have some time to think before booking the next session.


  • Step 5 – Where to start, often there seems to be a number of things you need help with, part of the therapy is helping people break down issues so don’t worry if you don’t know where to start but it might be useful to Have a think about what would be most helpful for you to begin working on look again at step one and reflect on the main areas you would like help with for each point ask yourself if this improved how would things be for me. Sometimes it’s not about changing but understanding and your therapist will be your guide.


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Sarah Rees

Sarah is a fully accredited Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and mental health writer delivering Modern Mental Health for you and with you in Mind. Sarah is the author of ‘The CBT Journal’ which helps you write for your wellbeing incorporating CBT techniques. For more information and to keep in touch have a look at sarahdrees.co.uk.