Here is some information on what to expect when you are calling and coming in for your first appointment with me. I've found that the answers below can help clients feel more confident about walking into the first session.
The First Call
The first call is usually when you are the most nervous or anxious about what to say and what to ask. You have just made the hardest first step, so no need to worry about what to say exactly. I will ask you a few questions about what you are looking for in therapy and how I can best support you.
Also, when you call, you will most likely get my voicemail as I'm often in appointments with other clients and unable to answer the phone at that moment. Please leave a voicemail and I will call you back within 24 hours (unless it is the weekend). When I call you back, I will always ask if this is alright time to talk, as I've found that sometimes clients answer the phone at work or home and then feel pressured to talk in that moment. If I return your call and it isn't a good time, no need to worry, we can set up a better time to talk. It is also alright to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if that feels more comfortable as an initial form of contact.
Before the First Session
You will often feel nervous before the first session as you may have been carrying around the burden or pressure for awhile and are anxious to get counseling started. This is very normal, so don't worry if you experience this. Before the first session, I will have you fill out some intake paperwork, which can be found on my website under “Helpful Forms”, to bring to the first session. This seems to be more helpful than having you come in and complete it before our appointment and if you are running a little late for our first counseling session, filling out intake paperwork won't cut into that time.
The First Session
At the first session we will briefly review the paperwork you brought in and then we will spend time talking further about why you are coming in. This includes, what you are hoping to get out of counseling, how long you have been experiencing these symptoms or obstacles and why now feels like the right time for change. You will notice in the first session that I will ask more questions than I will in most of our sessions. This is for two reasons; first it helps for me to get to know you and what your needs are and secondly because it helps to reduce your nerves about feeling like you need to come in knowing exactly what to say or do. My therapy sessions last for 50 minutes, unless we have discussed a longer time prior to scheduling.
End of the First Session
Often times clients tell me they feel relieved at the end of the first session because they have been able to release a burden that has been bothering them for a while and also because they feel like they are no longer alone with what they have been experiencing. Clients also often say they feel tired as releasing that burden can be both relieving and exhausting. At the end of the first session we will briefly talk about rescheduling and going forward working together. I typically try and schedule my clients for the same time every week, but as some of my clients have different work and home schedules, we can always move days and times as needed.
If for any reason at this point you don't feel like we are the right match, don't worry. I would much rather refer you to someone that is a good match, then for us to continue working together and you feel like you are not benefiting from services. It is much more important for you to have the right therapist versus the first therapist you met.
After the First Session
I always try and work with my clients to establish at least one "self-care" item to do throughout the week. This doesn't necessarily mean something that costs a lot of money like a massage or trip to Tahoe. It simply means setting some time in the week for you or you and your partner to care for yourselves. Some good self-care items can be walking around the neighborhood, listening to your favorite music or laughing with some friends. The most important part is doing something to be mindful of the need to nurture and care for yourself.
I hope that this has helped alleviate some of your nerves about making that first call and coming in for counseling. Feel free to email or call to schedule your free 15 minute phone consultation so we can further discuss your needs in counseling. I'm more than happy to answer any questions you may have before scheduling our first appointment, 916.677.7722 or email@example.com.