Well, you’ve chosen your therapist and it’s time for your first appointment. You have no clue what to expect, only knowing you’re nervous as heck and your feet are getting pretty chilly. Relax, here’s what’s likely to go down (not you, by the way).
You’ll participate in an assessment during your typically hour and a half first session. Each counselor has his/her preferred format, but it’s a matter of learning about you from a mental, emotional, and physical perspective. Items such as length of therapy, fees, canceling appointments, disclosures, and consents will be addressed. And, of course, your next appointment will be scheduled so you can get down to work (yes, I said “work”).
As you approach therapy, and your relationship with your counselor, be assertive. Granted, you’ll want your therapist’s direction, insight, and input; however, it’s vitally important to share with your therapist the direction in which you want to travel and the specific stops you want to make along the way. Talk about goals and desired outcomes. It’s your right to do so. And given the fact that it’s your head, money, and life I think it would be a wise thing to do.
Be an honorable client. Commit yourself to the relationship just as you would ask of your therapist. Be prompt, and if you’ve been given assignments have them completed and be ready to discuss them. And please don’t ever be a no-show. If something legitimate pops-up that’s going to interfere with your appointment, give your therapist as much advance notice as possible. Most often, something can be worked out. And always pay your bill. This issue goes beyond simply paying for services. It sends an internal message that you’re committed to your therapy; and that you’re willing to make a financial sacrifice and investment to get well.
If you’re working with a psychiatrist you’ll first appointment will typically be forty-five minutes, during which an assessment will be conducted. And since you went to a psychiatrist to deal with the biological aspects of your situation, a meds discussion will take place. And if you agree to a meds regimen a prescription(s) will be written. You’ll then schedule a follow-up appointment for perhaps three weeks down the road. And provided all goes well, 15-minute follow-up appointments will be scheduled on a three month basis.
Now, we’ve approached the subject of finding help within the context of non-emergent circumstances. But what if you find yourself in the midst of crisis?
Won’t you stop by for the next post for some pointers?