Anticipating an initial session can create anxiety in many people and knowing what to expect can help alleviate that anxiety. This is why I offer a 30 minute telephone consultation before people come to my office. I listen to what your presenting issue is and provide you with an understanding of my approach to therapy. After our phone conversation if you feel we both feel we might be a good fit you fill out paperwork that is provided on my web site, so that we do not use valuable session time to complete paperwork.
In the first few sessions we are getting to know each other informally. I have found that no matter how knowledgeable or experienced a therapist may be there is little, if any therapeutic progress without a strong therapeutic alliance between the client and their therapist. You must feel safe, comfortable, not judged and hopeful that you have found a place where you can truly begin to understand issues that have been causing you challenges.
My process involves asking general questions about why you decided to obtain treatment as well as background information. Questions will include your relationship and work history, medical history, assessment of your symptoms and other psychological history, previous psychotherapy experiences, and questions regarding your cultural background and family, to name a few.
After a few sessions I share my initial impressions in order to determine if I correctly understand you. I also will begin to outline what your treatment plan might be, usually within the first one to three sessions. I will encourage you to think up some of your own goals for therapy. I believe goal setting should be collaboration between my clients and myself. I also encourage questions regarding my professional background, my experience working with your issues and any questions you have regarding the psychotherapy process.
As treatment progresses, one thing to keep in mind is that psychotherapy requires client engagement. In order for treatment to work for you – you must be engaged, or involved, in your treatment. The client and psychotherapist are both active participants, as opposed to the client being the passive recipient of treatment. The more engaged you are, the more you will get out of the process.
Psychotherapy can seem daunting initially, however, many clients feel more comfortable once they have had their first session. You are there to be heard, assessed, and engage in treatment so that you and the your psychotherapist can work together to help you feel healthier overall.
One in 4 people deals with mental health issues which impacts people emotionally, cognitively, their relationships, the workplace — and also medically. “Mind your Health” by keeping mental health in the forefront.
Thom Kessler, LMFT, RAS
Marriage & Family Therapist and Registered Addiction Specialist