If you’re anxious about therapy, don’t worry; you’re not alone. Reaching out to a therapist for the first time can be nerve-wracking, especially when you’re already feeling overwhelmed. However, it’s important to remember that seeking help is a brave and proactive step towards improving your mental health. 

So, what do you say to a therapist for the first time? How do you phrase that email? Here’s a guide to help you draft an email to a therapist for the first time. 

But let’s start by reviewing the importance of that first email.

Why Is the First Email Important? 

The initial email you send to a therapist is crucial as it sets the foundation for your therapeutic relationship. It’s a step towards finding the right therapist for you, and it’s an opportunity to express your needs and concerns. 

Bottling up your emotions and thoughts can be overwhelming; this is where the first email comes in handy. It lets you articulate your reason for seeking therapy and what you hope to gain from it. 

It’s your chance to introduce yourself and ask any questions you may have about the therapist or their practice. The tone and content of this first email can determine whether you and the therapist are a good match. 

You also get to ease into therapy by starting with a virtual connection, which can help reduce any initial anxiety or discomfort. 

Tips for Writing Your First Email

Here are some tips to keep in mind when writing your first email to a therapist:

1. Introduce Yourself

Start by introducing yourself and briefly explaining why you are contacting the therapist. 

2. Be Brief and Concise

Explaining your problems or articulating your troubles can be difficult at first, so try to make your message clear and concise. Avoid rambling or including too much loosely connected information.

3. Express Your Needs and Expectations

It’s your chance to communicate why you are seeking therapy and what you hope to gain from it. Be honest and open about your concerns and goals.

4. Provide Essential Details

Include important details such as any previous therapy experience, preferred mode of therapy (in-person or online), availability, etc. It will help the therapist better understand your situation and determine if they can meet your needs.

5. Ask Questions

How else will you be sure it’s a great fit without asking any questions you may have?

6. Proofread

It’s good practice to always read through your drafts and edit out any spelling or grammatical errors. A well-written email shows that you have taken the time and effort to communicate effectively.

7. Reassure Confidentiality 

It’s natural to have concerns about confidentiality when seeking therapy. Reassure the therapist that their response and any information shared will remain confidential.

Crafting an Appropriate Subject Line for Reaching Out to a Therapist

Your subject line is the first thing a therapist will see when they receive your email, so it’s essential that it reflects your intent while staying concise. Putting effort and thought into your subject line boosts the odds the therapist will open and read your email. 

Here are a few tips for creating an engaging subject line:

1. Be Specific

A vague subject line like “Seeking therapy” may be accurate but is missing easily communicated details that will give the therapist more of a heads up on what you’re looking for. Instead, mention the type of therapy or specific issue you want to address, such as “Inquiring about CBT for anxiety.”

2. Personalize It

Address the therapist by name in your subject line to show you have done your research and are genuinely interested in working with them.

3. Use a Question When Appropriate

A question in your subject line can be an easy way of letting them know what general information you’re looking for. For example, “Is therapy right for me?” or “Can you help me overcome my fear of public speaking?”

4. Keep It Concise

A subject line should be short and to the point. Make sure it fits within the character limit and is easy to read.

5. Avoid Using All Caps

You don’t want to seem aggressive or put the therapist on the defensive, so avoid excessive punctuation like all caps and multiple exclamation marks. This could also get your email dismissed as spam, sending it to a hidden folder the therapist is unlikely to see for a long time if ever.

Remember, your subject line’s goal is to inform the therapist of the topic of your email, so they’ll know what to expect when they open and read your email. Once your subject line is done, you’re ready to start crafting the body of your email.

The Dos and Don’ts of Emailing a Therapist

Now that you have a concise subject line, it’s time to focus on the body of your email. Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind when composing your message:

The Dos

  1. Be honest: Honesty is key when reaching out to a therapist. Be open and transparent about your concerns, struggles, and reasons for seeking therapy.
  2. Show genuine interest: Let the therapist know why you specifically want to work with them. Mention any relevant experience or expertise they have that aligns with your needs.
  3. Keep it professional: While it’s essential to be honest and show interest, it’s also good practice to maintain a professional tone. Avoid using informal language or slang at this point in communications with them.
  4. Personalize your message: Just like with the subject line, using the therapist’s name in your email body can make a big difference in letting the therapist know that you’re serious and have done your research. 

The Don’ts

  • Don’t use platitudes or cliches: Avoid generic phrases like “I just need someone to talk to” or “I’m looking for help.” These can come across as insincere and may not accurately convey your needs.
  • Don’t overshare: While honesty is important, it’s also important to maintain boundaries and not divulge too much personal information in your initial email. Save the details for your therapy sessions.
  • Don’t make assumptions: Avoid making assumptions about the therapist or their practice. Let them guide you regarding their availability, approach, and fees.
  • Don’t send a generic template: an email to a therapist should be unique, and it differs vastly in form and tone from most other emails. Contacting multiple therapists with a generic email template will likely appear impersonal and rigid like those used by spammers. 

Overcoming Anxiety About Therapy

1. Normalize Seeking Therapy

It’s important to remember that seeking therapy is a courageous step toward tackling a real problem, but it’s also a very common solution, with around 55.8 million adults seeking help for their mental health in 2022.  

2. Educate Yourself on the Benefits of Therapy

Research has shown that therapy can improve mental health outcomes, increase self-awareness and insight, and improve relationships. Understanding the potential benefits of therapy can help alleviate any anxiety or hesitation about seeking it.

3. Find a Therapist Who Makes You Comfortable

Take the time to research and contact therapists who have experience treating your specific concerns and with whom you feel comfortable speaking. This guide to finding the perfect fit in your city will help you get started on your search for the right therapist. 

4. Communicate Openly with Your Therapist

Remember, your therapist is there to support you and help you navigate your concerns. Be open and honest about your feelings, thoughts, and experiences in therapy. 

5. Don’t Get Discouraged

Therapy can be challenging sometimes, but it’s important to remember that progress takes time. Keep going even if you don’t see immediate results, and trust the therapy process. It may take time, but it can lead to significant positive changes in your life.

6. Seek Support Outside of Therapy

While therapy is valuable, having a support system outside of sessions is also essential. This support system can include friends, family, or support groups who can provide additional encouragement and perspective during the therapeutic journey. 

7. Ask Questions and Voice Concerns

If something doesn’t feel right in therapy, don’t hesitate to speak up and discuss it with your therapist. They are there to listen and help address any issues arising in the therapeutic process.

8. Don’t Be Afraid to Try Different Approaches

Every therapist has unique approaches and procedures, so don’t be afraid to try a different approach if you feel your current therapy isn’t working. Remember, finding the right fit with a therapist is crucial for successful therapy outcomes.

Final Thoughts on What to Say to a Therapist for the First Time

It’s normal to feel anxious or nervous when meeting with a therapist for the first time. Remember, your therapist is there to help and support you. 

Be open and honest about your concerns and trust in the therapy process. It may take time, but with the right therapist and approach, therapy can lead to significant positive changes. Don’t hesitate to seek support outside of therapy and speak up if you have any concerns. 

If you need help, check out our compassionate therapy and counseling services by Innovative Family Therapy in Louisville, Kentucky, and surrounding areas.