What to Expect in Your First CBT Session

What to expect in your first CBT session

Realizing that one needs therapy is often that first big step that changes people’s lives. Whether you’ve been searching online for ways to improve your mental health or you have been to a professional therapist, you must have come across one term — Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

CBT is an effective evidence-based therapeutic technique that can greatly improve your thoughts and behaviors. It is a popular term as this form of therapy is mentioned in almost every other self-help book just because of how effective it is. It is simple, practical, and works for almost every major thinking disorder.

However, if it’s your first time seeking therapy or you’re thinking about getting an appointment for yourself, this term may seem daunting. Keeping this in mind, we will first look at what CBT is and what you can expect during your first CBT session. So, keep on reading and this post will answer all of your questions.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

CBT is one of the several treatments available for treating anxiety, depression, and various other mental health disorders. It is a combination of talk therapy and behavioral therapy. It is one of the most widely used forms of therapy and almost all therapists use it as an effective tool in their arsenal. CBT is a short-term and goal-oriented treatment, so you can start seeing the benefits in a relatively lesser time period.

CBT is based on the assumption that most of our life’s difficulties stem from our negative and irrational thinking patterns and behaviors. Therefore, CBT focuses on identifying such habits and thinking patterns and then rationalizing them and replacing them with healthy and positive ones. This helps us develop new ways of thinking and how we look at our life’s problems. This helps you directly work on your problem and obtain fast and effective results.

What to expect in your first CBT session?

Now, as you’re aware of what CBT is, let’s go through what a typical CBT session looks like.

Initial Introductions

At the start of your session, you and your therapist will ease in together with one another. You will be seated in a private room and have a one-on-one conversation with your therapist. Your therapist will start by introducing themselves. You will be expected to do the same.

At first, your therapist will ask some general questions about you. Like what’s your profession, where are you from, your age, and other relevant details. Initial questions won’t be related to therapy. You won’t start going deep right off the bat. Doing this, you will feel much more comfortable with one another and this will set off the right mood for both of you.

They might also share their own mental health issues they have dealt with in the past. A trustworthy and honest relationship with your therapist is very important. So, both you and your therapist will try to get as comfortable as you can with one another.

Mental Health Assessments

After you have set off the right mood, your therapist will start asking questions more directed towards your mental health. They will encourage you to be as honest as possible. Doing this will help them get a more in-depth understanding of your personal experiences and mental state.

Everyone suffers from problems in different ways, so you will be expected to honestly put out how you feel. They might inquire about your professional performance, your childhood, your relationship with your partner, or anything that might assist them in understanding you better.

This will help them pinpoint the exact issues so they can assess what you exactly need. However, your therapist will only encourage you to share details related to your mental health condition. You won’t be expected to share every little secret with them. Being open and honest with them will help you in understanding your problem.

Coping Strategies

Once your therapist knows about your past experiences and mental health concerns, they will start to discuss these problems in detail. They will provide you with tips and methods that can help you manage and control your issues.

These coping strategies may include identifying your cognitive distortions, relaxation techniques, journaling, or exposure to things that trigger you. These techniques and methods will help you look at things in a more realistic manner. Some of these methods might require your therapist’s guidance while others can be done alone on your own.


Your treatment does not end in the office. After your CBT session is over, your therapist might give you a worksheet or a list of things that you need to perform on your own. This will help you reinforce your coping mechanisms and new ways of learning and healing. This will aid you in fitting these techniques in your day to day life so you can start using them and seeing the benefits. Your therapist might give you some milestones to achieve until your next therapy session. Being consistent and using these techniques outside of your therapy sessions will help you make the most out of your treatment.

Your therapist will give you additional guidance on how you can use these techniques without any professional help. They might also recommend further helping material such as some books you can read depending on your specific condition.


CBT is an excellent way to deal with your mental health issues. Going through the article above will help you understand how this procedure takes place. Your therapist might perform additional activities depending on the problem you’re getting treatment for. However, the majority of the time, your therapy session will follow the procedures mentioned above.

If you have any mental health concerns or think that your thinking is problematic, then getting an appointment with your therapist for a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy session can turn out to be one of the best decisions you make for improving your life.

Get More Posts