Over the next series of posts, I want to introduce you to how I approach the different stages of therapy in my practice –  from the free initial consultation to ending the therapeutic relationship.

In my last post, I described what the free initial consultation looks like and provided you with some helpful questions to ask yourself when determining therapeutic fit.  During this post, I’m going to describe what the first session entails – once you’ve made the decision to begin therapy.  The first session is primarily focused on gathering information and helps me get an idea of what brings you to therapy and what you are hoping to accomplish.

The first session is fairly structured and there is some important paperwork that must be completed at the beginning.  I will explain my practice’s policies as well as go over the mandatory disclosure form.  These forms ensure that you are aware of my training and services, your rights as a client, the limits of confidentiality, and the policies that protect our therapeutic relationship.  Before we can proceed, you will need to sign these forms and I will send you home with copies.  I encourage my clients to ask questions at any point during this process, which takes about 10 minutes.

Once we have completed the initial paperwork, we will spend the remaining time (40 minutes or so) talking about what prompted you to seek counseling, how the current issue or problem is impacting your life, and your goals for therapy.  I will also ask you a set of questions that I ask all clients during the first session that cover your current circumstances as well as your life history.

In the past, I’ve had people ask me how they can prepare for the first session.  My response is that if you want to prepare, you can spend some time thinking about your goals for therapy.  There isn’t any preparation necessary and due to the structured nature of the first session, it is primarily directed by the therapist.  My approach to therapy is collaborative and transparent, so if you have any questions or if there is something that you are wanting to discuss during the first session – I invite you to bring it into session when you feel comfortable doing so.  In my next post, I will share my approach to therapy and what you can expect after the first session.

Are you currently looking for a therapist?  To schedule an appointment, contact me today at catherine@embracestrengthcounseling or visit my website for more information about my services.

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