The First Sessions
Initial psychotherapy meetings tend to be exciting and deeply informative, often rich with emotion and discovery. My approach to the first therapy sessions varies from client to client. If the client is comfortable with leading, I let him or her lead. Some people are dealing with an issue that feels very urgent, and they talk about that issue for the entire hour, crying a lot. Others don’t feel this urgency at all and seem content to give the background details that feel relevant to their current situation. But others aren’t really sure how to begin, and they need some scaffolding.
So these next few blog posts will be for those folks, the unmoored among us. With that population in mind, I will share some approaches that provide clients with structure and get the therapy ball rolling. In particular, I will discuss the importance of exploring a client’s first memory, gathering a personal history, and creating a genogram (a type of family tree). I don’t necessarily do all of these things in the initial sessions. Nor do I execute them in a particular order. But since it’s the beginning of the beginning, an exercise on first memories seems like a good place to start this series of posts.