If you have never been to counseling before, you – like many people – might be a little nervous about what to expect at your first appointment (also called an intake session). It may help to know that the first meeting is not quite the same as a typical counseling session. It is a little bit like an interview. While during the conversation your therapist will be asking you about your family history, your education, your interests and your learning style, your therapist is also seeking to understand what prompted you to seek counseling services at this time.
While this is going on, you are also interviewing your therapist to determine whether they will be a good match for you and your needs. Gathering information from your therapist may help you decide whether you have found the right “fit” for you. Some people find it helpful to write out in advance a list of questions for their counselor that they bring to the first session. Questions could include:
- What therapeutic approach do you take when working with clients?
- What sort of experience do you have in working with clients with issues similar to mine?
- What does a typical session look like?
- Do you assign homework or reading to your clients?
Perhaps one of the most important points to bring up with your therapist is your goal(s) for therapy. What are you hoping to gain from the experience? You may have a specific intent in mind – changing a specific behavior, for example – or you may not. Sometimes people seek out therapy because they just know that they want to feel differently. We can help you develop your goals to be as specific as you want them to be.
If you are a parent or guardian seeking services for your child, you may wish to consult with our office about attending the intake appointment without them present. There may be information you wish to share with your therapist that you may not wish to discuss in front of your child. Teenagers are welcome to attend intake sessions to ask questions of their own and have a sense of ownership in the therapy process. Your therapist will review with all of you how privacy will be maintained for your child or teenager during their individual sessions.
As the session is drawing to a close, your therapist will review your goals with you to confirm they understand your purpose in seeking therapy. They will also outline potential next steps for counseling. Your therapist will also ask if you feel comfortable returning for the next session.
Therapy is not easy. It’s an investment of your time and health. It’s also about building a partnership between counselor and client. It is our hope that at the end of this first session, you will feel that you will be working in a space and with a therapist with whom you feel safe and respected.
We look forward to meeting you.