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  • Writer's pictureLeilanie Pakoa

What to expect in a psychology session!

Hi I'm Leilanie and I am an endorsed sport & exercise psychologist. I predominantly work with young people, athletes, teams, neurodiverse brains, and people experiencing eating difficulties.

One thing I've noticed over the years, is that people can get told to look after their mental health and speak to a professional, but have no idea what actually occurs in a session. This unknown and uncertainty around booking in a session with a psychologist can be a massive barrier for people seeking support.

Hopefully today I can shed some light and reduce some of that uncertainty!

What is a first session like??

From the psychologist point of view, the first session is focused on getting an understanding of the different parts of your life. We usually ask about what's brought you in, as well as your hobbies, family, friends, work, school. We want to gain an initial picture of what the different factors you manage in your life.

I tend to ask about the 3 pillars of wellbeing as well - sleep, food, and exercise. I will usually ask about the difficulties we are experiencing day to day. Any goals, expectations, or hopes you have in coming to therapy. From there, I will usually try to identify what are some of the skills we want to be building or focusing on.

Another big part of the first session is simply meeting one another, building rapport, and the therapeutic relationship. In psychology, it is pretty important you feel comfortable sharing parts of yourself. We don't always get along with everyone, so it is important to find a psychologist that you connect with.

*An important point.

We are not going to identify, explore, and solve all our problems in a first session. Therapy is a process of self-discovery and skill building, it will take time.

Therapy - a process of discovery and skills

Across sessions, the focus is usually on building awareness of yourself, your triggers, your communication styles, how your experiences have influenced you, and how your mind works. Many therapeutic approaches aim to improve self-reflection, awareness, and understanding one's self more.

Along with this, my therapeutic style is to identify specific skills we want to be working on, and provide practical strategies to try and implement. Again, this can take time and some trial and error. Self-discovery and reflection is important in therapy. I find it is also important to have some skills or strategies to work on to feel like we are creating change for ourselves.

If you are unsure throughout the process ask questions, check in with your therapist, identify things you want to work on. Part of a psychologists job is to help identify difficulties and how to manage those. However, they are not mind readers (much to my disappointment), so it's important to speak up and reflect your expectations. It is of sorts a working relationship where both parties have to be willing and open to exploring, reflecting, and identifying factors together.

I hope this was somewhat helpful, if you've got any questions or want to learn more please send us an email at


Principal Psychologist

Surge Performance + Wellbeing

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