Your first appointment with a therapist is primarily an information-gathering session for the therapist. He or she needs to learn a lot about you and your history in a short amount of time in order to properly evaluate your concerns and arrive at a possible diagnosis. Since diagnosis often helps guide treatment, it’s an important part of the process.
Therapists of course want to hear what the current problem is and where it all started. That helps address your immediate needs and what brought you in that day to see the therapist. But the therapist also might ask you a bit about your childhood and family background, not in some “lay down on the couch and tell me about your mother” way, but just to understand your development a little better.
Many people will leave their first session alternately feeling: relieved, horrified, peaceful, even more anxious, and hopeful, or any combination of these feelings and more. Get used to that feeling, because psychotherapy is an experience unlike any other in this world. It is powerful, but it can also be a little scary and intimidating. Most people who try psychotherapy end up liking it, and appreciating their time with their therapist as a chance to explore new ways of being, of thinking, of feeling.