Is it normal to go into therapy feeling nervous?

I've gone to a couple therapy sessions so far and still everytime I walk in I get nervous and shaky. Is this normal? Should I still be feeling like this?

Laura Cassity, LMSW, LMAC
Laura Cassity, LMSW, LMAC
Pathways to Healing & Recovery, LLC "Where your voice is heard"

Hello. First, I am so sorry you are experiencing these feelings. They can be intense, I will do my best to offer some suggestions or thoughts that I hope will be helpful to you.

There could be a number of things occurring. Therapy is a delicate, private decision and I would first like to commend you for the fact that you are not giving up, that you are working to figure this out, and make this work, it sounds like you are engaged and motivated to receive support from a professional, your continued  dedication and motivation will take you far.

I would first start by asking if you have discussed this with your therapist, if you feel comfortable enough telling your therapist what is going on, maybe inform the therapist that  that you feel nervous and shaky. I am a firm believer in open communication between the client and therapist as this builds a healthy therapeutic relationship that yields positive outcomes, if this can be obtained and well received.

This is YOUR time for healing and therapy should be a safe, supportive environment to not only process but to seek support and guidance from a professional who can help you move past the barriers. If you feel you are comfortable and able to speak to your therapist, that would be my first suggestion, is to tell he or she how you are feeling. If they know then they can help determine the potential cause and allow you to process and move forward. If this is left un resolved it will be hard for you to move forward.

If you are not comfortable discussing this with your therapist, this may be something to take into consideration and worthy of thinking about: why you are not comfortable speaking to the therapist. I understand this is difficult. If I may offer one more suggestion, breathing exercises are very beneficial. Remind yourself what you are working to achieve, close your eyes in a safe moment and breathe in and out slowly, in slowly through your nose and out through your mouth with pursed lips. Breathe in for approximately 5-10 seconds, then let it out slowly. Be sure and do this when you are in private, and feel safe environment. When you begin, I suggest putting your hand on your stomach, over your belly button to feel yourself actually taking in those deep breaths. I know it may sound kind of silly but they really work and are incredibly helpful. We often forget to breathe, especially when we  are feeling anxious.

You are supported here and try taking yourself through the above thought process and breathing and practice the breathing several times a day. I hope this shaky and uneasy feeling eases. Wishing you the very best!

Laura Cassity, LMSW, LMAC

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
David Routt
David Routt
President and Clinical Counselor at Totius Therapies

It can be uncomfortable talking to someone about your life in the great detail that is normally necessary for counseling to be beneficial. Since you're already going to counseling, congratulations on taking that big, first, stress-inducing step. Hopefully by now you are starting to feel a little more comfortable with your therapist. It can be helpful to address this big "elephant in the room" and talk to your therapist about this. I do my best to help people feel comfortable when they come to counseling, but regardless of how hard we try, sometimes it is just a little hard to get accustomed to. The good news is, the more you keep at it, the more "normal" it will become. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Toni Genovese
Toni Genovese
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

If you have only been to a couple of sessions, it makes sense that you might still feel apprehensive at first. Therapy is hard work! You may be talking about some things that you never talked to anyone about before. Opening up to stranger can be scary. After you feel comfortable with your counselor, and trust has built up and you feel understood in session, you should feel more relaxed. I would encourage you to talk to your counselor about feeling a little shaky. Sharing what the process is like for you is important in your work. If you still feel unsure about sharing after several sessions, it is important to take a look at that and try to understand where that may be coming from. For example, are you and the therapist not a good fit? But, again if you are just starting out in working together, feeling a little bit nervous makes perfect sense, and I encourage you to give it a bit more time and to talk to your therapist about how you are feeling.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Viktoria Ivanova
Viktoria Ivanova
You are a warrior! Every day you wake and face the excitement and challenges of the world. At times, we all need a guide to get us through the tough times on our life journey. Together, we will decipher mysteries of life.

Hi there, 

Thank you for your question. It's absolutely ok to feel nervous going to therapy. I have experienced anxiety going to see my own therapist. There can be a few reasons why you might feel this way. 

First, it is always unnerving to see a person who is a stranger and to share intimate things with that stranger. You mentioned it has only been a couple of sessions. Your anxiety might subside as you continue to see your therapist and grow more comfortable with him/her. 

Another reason why you might feel particularly nervous is perhaps you are not comfortable sharing things. As children, we might have bad experiences opening up to others. Someone might bully or ridicule us, and that experience can stay with us for a long time, making it extra scary to share our intimate feelings and thoughts with others. If this the case, as you continue with your sessions and have positive interactions with your therapists, this anxiety will subside with time and you will re-learn that it is safe to share. 

And the last thought why you might feel the shakes is perhaps you know that you need to talk about some past experiences or memories that are uncomfortable and difficult. 

Regardless of the reason, it might help you to bring up your nervousness in your session and share how you feel with your therapist. Having an open dialogue about your anxiety with your therapist can help you resolve some of that anxiety and built greater trust with your therapist. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Anna McElearney
Anna McElearney
Helping Couples Build Stronger Relationships

Thank you for your question. It's completely normal and natural to feel nervous before a therapy session. Many people report having felt this way. 

I can't say enough regarding the amount of courage it takes to reach out and attend a therapy session. For many people, it can take weeks, months, or even years of contemplating whether to see a therapist or not before actually contacting one and attending the first session. It takes courage to want to work through any struggles you may be having or personal growth you aspire toward. 

In your question, you mentioned that you've "gone several times and are still feeling nervous and shaky." If you feel comfortable with your therapist and it's a good fit for you, I would suggest talking about this with your therapist. You don't have to struggle each time you have your appointment. Together, you and your therapist can work toward helping you have a different experience. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Kevin Mimms
Kevin Mimms
Building Better Connections

It’s very normal to be nervous going into therapy. You are being vulnerable and honest, which is always scary, no matter how many times you do it. The best part about therapy is that the more you go, the more confident you are in your ability to work through those difficult feelings, and while you still may sometimes get nervous, you will have confidence too!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
David Klein
David Klein
Humanistic Psychotherapy for Individuals & Couples

It depends on your definition of "normal"!:) I would say that the average client I see feels some level of nervous energy when they come into their sessions, and especially at the beginning. I think that with clients who I work with that have difficult times in relationships, maybe being able to trust people is tougher for them given their life experiences, the expectation would be that they have a harder time moving through those nerves and feeling more at peace in sessions.

In my opinion, a competent therapist could help you explore where these nerves are actually coming from (talking about yourself, relating to another, something else?) I encourage all of my clients to bring up whatever emotions are coming up for them in the moment, as it's helpful to the client to recognize the "present moment" emotion and then being able to process, learn from, and move through to a more peaceful place, if that is what is being sought.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Kim Hollingdale
Kim Hollingdale
Mind-Body Approaches to Stress, Depression & Anxiety
Therapy can feel very weird to begin with - think about it, how often do we go and tell a relative stranger our deepest, darkest thoughts in the rest of our life? So I think its reasonable to expect a certain level of nerves as you get used to your therapist and to the whole process of talking about yourself and vulnerable topics. That said, its definitely worth bringing to the attention of your therapist (if you haven't already) to see if there is anything that they can do, or that the two of you can explore together, that might make the process feel less intimidating to you.
Chris McDonald
Chris McDonald
Holistic Counselor

It takes a lot of courage to go to therapy.  I have gone myself as a Counselor and know what that feeling is like. This is normal but hopefully you have become more comfortable with your therapist. This might be something to bring up to your Therapist and openly discuss (scary to do but its ok) this may even relieve some of your anxiety.  If it continues, you may want to consider trying another therapist as this one may not be the best fit for you.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Cory Ian Shafer LPC
Cory Ian Shafer LPC
Psychotherapist, Jungian, Hypnotherapy

Therapy does not work overnight, oftentimes it is a lifelong struggle, the therapists job is not to "cure" you or to remove something but rather to make you strong enough to live your life with your own peculiarities and struggles, remember we are human and constantly fallible. Another important thing to note is that although you go to therapy, that is just a room, most of the magic and work takes place in your real life outside of that room.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

Yes, feeling nervous for the first few or several sessions of therapy, is completely normal.

Therapy is an unusual way to have a conversation with someone.   The person is an expert in recognizing and understanding dynamics of human interactions.   For some people the fear is that the therapist knows more about you than you do yourself.

In general terms hopefully your therapist has worked with many other people who've faced problems similar to yours.

In this sense the therapist has a general idea of the basic dynamics you most likely are handling.

No therapist could possibly know your particular details and your particular areas of upset or in what ways you feel unsure of yourself.

Once you start to trust both your own right to tell your particular story and start to also feel that your therapist is listening attentively and cares what you tell the person, your nervousness will start to disappear all on its own.

Good luck in getting the most from your therapy sessions!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Jill Barnett Kaufman
Jill Barnett Kaufman
Psychotherapist

It is absolutely normal to be nervous about therapy.  Many people take years to make the decision to start counseling and although it is a safe place to explore feelings, it may be the first time you are facing certain issues.  It takes courage to face issues head on.  Being nervous is part of the process.  The fact that you are continuing to go to therapy sessions despite feeling nervous demonstrates your strength.  Keep it up!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Catherine Hodge
Catherine Hodge
Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Yes, it is completely normal to feel anxious about therapy. Therapy often explores topics and feelings that are uncomfortable. The ultimate goal of therapy is to feel better but the process itself can be uncomfortable.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Robert Hammel
Robert Hammel
Psychologist providing caring counseling.

For some people it's absolutely normal to feel nervous about coming to therapy.   It's sometimes hard to share our emotions and feelings with someone --- no matter how warm and caring the therapist is.     Are you comfortable with your therapist?  Is it a good relational fit?      Maybe this is a good thing to discuss with your specific therapist at the beginning of your next session --- maybe they can help you find some strategies or tools to make it easier?  

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Lauren Ostrowski, MA, LPC, NCC, DCC, CCTP
Lauren Ostrowski, MA, LPC, NCC, DCC, CCTP
I tailor my therapeutic approach to each client's strengths and goals

Well, it's generally okay to feel anxious or nervous about going into therapy, particularly in the beginning because the process of being open about what you are going through, much less to someone who you don't know well, can be anxiety-producing. It's also common to feel anxious when you are discussing something that is important, difficult to discuss, or you are making changes that are very difficult for you.

The most important thing I can tell you, though, is to discuss with your therapist this idea that you feel nervous and shaky. Some anxiety can actually help to motivate or lead you toward change. There are also level of anxiety that can be counterproductive, so it's a good thing to discuss. Personally, I can tell you that I would want my clients to tell me about anxiety they feel 100% of the time. That opens the dialog to discuss whether it is the level of anxiety that they want to sit with and learn about in discovering more about themselves and their experiences and/or whether they would like to do something to lessen the feeling of anxiety.

Thanks for writing here. If it caused anxiety for you to do so, I hope that feeling is diminishing for you, at least related to writing here.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal, as if you want to hurt or kill yourself or someone else, or are in crisis, call 800-273-8255 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week), call 911, or proceed to your local emergency room.
Patti Thompson
Patti Thompson
Psychotherapy

Certainly. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Frank Walker
Frank Walker
I help couples manage the bumpy road called marriage. Whether your marriage needs a tune up, a major overhaul or just a flat tire changed. I can help.

of  I would love to know a little bit more about what's going on in your life but I will attempt an answer.Yes, you could still be shaky and nervous going to therapy. This therapy thing your doing is sometimes scary. 

First, because your opening up things that you might have never wanted to. 

Second, your still building a relationship with this therapist person. You may never get over that. The therapist really can't be your "friend". They are there to push the buttons that you might not want pushed and help you heal.  That in itself is scary and can make you anxious. 

Third, you really never know where this therapy thing will go. Yes, there are goals. But sometimes side roads need to be taken and sometimes that is scary.

Know this you are in the right place. You are taking steps to change. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

It is absolutely a typical response.  Many of my clients are nervous the first couple of times we meet.  This is essentially a stranger with whom you are sharing your feelings.  

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Dr. Bonnie Howell
Dr. Bonnie Howell
Dr. Bonnie Howell Coach and Counsel

It's normal to feel a little anxiety--after all it's an important encounter for you.  My suggestion is to discuss this with your therapist, let him/her know how you're feeling, especially if you feel as though your level of anxiety is impacting the quality and benefit of your sessions.  You might try some relaxation techniques prior to starting the session, deep breathing, progressive relaxation, core muscle dis-engagement--If you're not familiar with these techniques ask your therapist or write back.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Keith Hughes
Keith Hughes
Relationships, Depression & Anxiety, Spiritual

Hello there.  You ask about being nervous and shaky walking in to your therapy session and want to know if its normal? ...  I realize there a few ways to look at this.  I presume you weren't anticipating feeling this way; and probably hoped to feel the opposite..  Well, my initial response is yes, sure, it can be within reason to feel this way.  Have you been in therapy before? Is this somewhat new? That could be part of the reason. But either way; new or not, I think when are entering into a meeting that holds potential evaluation of deep things about you and your heart and soul, it can cause anyone to tremble. The soul can be anticipating some things could be shaken up here, and it can feel scary to look at these things and then change.  Looking deep at our life can feel daunting and scary; so your response just might be regards to potential growth trying to happen.  

OR, is there something about the therapist you don't feel confident about?  This too might be in play as a reason for your feelings...  Maybe you lack confidence in that therapist ?  Have you let your therapist know how you feel?  That would be good to explore...

I would like to encourage you to look at these ideas.  Hope it helps.   Let me know

Kindly,

keith

keithcounseling.com

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Lauren Goldstein
Lauren Goldstein
GLBTQ Affirmative Relationship Therapist for individuals and couples

"Normal" can be an insidious word to use because it can undermine your sense of worth.  It implies there's one particular way you should be behaving and can leave you feeling crappy and "abnormal" if you're not behaving according to that prescribed standard.  

Instead, what I'd recommend is to pay attention to your emotional experiences when you're attending therapy.  Explore your feelings and thoughts without judgement and try to reflect and understand what's going on that's causing you anxiety.  Once you figure out the underlying meaning of the anxiety, you can figure out a way to handle it and action steps to take to diminish it.  

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Linda Spyres
Linda Spyres
LCSW, CEO

Everyone has different experiences going to therapy. Being nervous can be a typical emotion one might feel. Emotions are our body's way of telling us important information about ourselves. I would suggest talking openly in your sessions about this. That way you can process your thoughts and feelings with the guidance of your counselor. There are probably underlining emotions (fears or insecurities) that are being stirred up during your therapy sessions. Your counselor might suggest individual counseling depending on what you learn about your anxiety. In individual therapy you would have time to deal with your own stressors. As you address your issues, then you will have tools and skills that will be useful in addressing the couple relationship. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Marquita Johnson
Marquita Johnson
LPC, MDiv, NCC, DCC

I would be more concerned with how is this being addressed in therapy. Therapy can be a rewarding process, however often times we do not pay much attention to the messages being sent to our bodies. I believe in somatic therapy which deals with our mind & body connection. I would think it may not be a question of normal or abnormal however if it is impacting you then you must pay attention to that. It would be helpful to explore the feelings you're having  with your therapist. It may be something that needs addressing to help alleviate those feelings or have a better understanding of why they are showing up when it is time for therapy. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Laurel Fay
Laurel Fay
Marriage and Relationship Expert

It is totally normal - you have a lot riding on this and you're invested! Think about why you feel so shaky - is it something about the therapist or their style? If so, it would be a good idea to talk with them about it so you feel more at ease. In any case bringing up your feelings about therapy in therapy is totally appropriate and even necessary. Good luck!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

Submit your own question

More Answers