The first session with a therapist is very important, it can also feel a bit scary, stepping into the unknown. Don’t worry, I will do everything I can to help you feel comfortable, there’s no pressure to prove anything, and you only have to travel at your own pace. This time is for you to see if you feel comfortable with me and you are invited to ask any questions that are relevant to your therapy. Maybe you’d even like to come with a list to help you remember what you wanted to cover.
Equally in the first session I am responsible for honestly assessing whether I can meet your needs. Do I have the right skill set to help you through the issues that you are describing. Can we work together productively and safely?
Every therapist will have their own process, I can only describe my own. Even if you aren’t considering working with me, I hope that this description may help you gain confidence so that you can begin a conversation with other potential therapists about what you need.
When you first get in touch and book an initial session I will send you some paperwork, by email, that you must look over. I will send:
- A Contract
- Telephone or video counselling guidelines (if relevant)
- Payment terms and details
This is all so that you have a clear view about the arrangements for our relationship and so that you have time in advance of our meeting to consider any questions you may have.
Our initial session will last 50 minutes. The first, and usually largest, part of that time will be devoted to you telling me what brings you to therapy and what you hope to change or address during our time together. I will listen and ask questions in order to understand your point of view. I will also review your response to my Information Gathering Questionnaire and ask some details about your health and past experiences. I will also check in with you about what you read in the paperwork I sent, find out if it raised any questions or concerns and we can talk about those.
Towards the end of our 50 minutes, if I feel that I am the right person to help you and that I can do so well and safely, I will ask if you also feel happy to proceed and commit to further sessions with me. If I judge that I cannot help you I will explain why and I will do my best to offer you some alternative sources of support. It is uncommon that this is the outcome, but it is possible, and it needs to be acknowledged here. No therapist can possibly be a good fit with every single potential client. And it is most likely that if I suggest we cannot proceed it will be because I don’t feel that I have the right skills or experience that you need. It’s also possible that you don’t feel I am right for you, and I am comfortable to hear that. I wholeheartedly support your right to say you don’t want to proceed.
When we do both feel comfortable to proceed we will have a conversation about the next steps, most of which is outlined in my contract. This will cover how long we might expect to meet for, how we will review this, and payment and cancellation terms.
Sometimes we might agree that we need more time to assess how to proceed and we’ll agree another single assessment session. More usually at this point we will agree to meet for an initial number of sessions, regularly reviewing progress and our collaborative therapy journey begins.