A question that I get quite often from potential therapy clients is focused on what to expect. How do I actually start working with a therapist, anyway? This is a valid question, especially since what is portrayed in the media is often less-than-accurate.
It is different depending on who your therapist is, what types of therapy they practice, and what setting you are in. I will tell you a few things that you can expect when you begin working with me, starting at our initial phone call until our first session.
I offer therapy for anxiety, stress management, couples counseling and therapy for recovering people pleasers. My practice is online counseling only, so you can see me from the privacy of your own home and don't have to worry about traffic.
This is probably going to be the hardest part for you, the client. There are a lot of therapists out there who want to help you and who are qualified to do so. You can use directories such as PsychologyToday.com, GoodTherapy.org, and even trusty ol’ Google. You can search by location, gender, specialty and other factors. I suggest looking for a therapist who feels like they are speaking directly to you on some level, if you feel excited and curious about them in some way that is a good sign. Once you find one (or a few!) that you think you can relate to, it is time to reach out and let them know you are interested. Many therapists have contact forms on their websites, or you can call or email as well. Hopefully, you find a therapist that makes that step easy. It’s ok to reach out to a few different therapist just to have options.
The First Phone Call.
This call is usually around 10-15 minutes long, and the main purpose is to see if you think I can help solve your problem, as well as to go over any logistics of working together. I will ask a few focused questions about what your experience is, what the issues you are having the most trouble with, and what you hope to change in therapy. I will tell you a little bit about how I work as a therapist and we will discuss scheduling, payment, and frequency of treatment. If we both decide that this would be a good fit for you, then I will gather contact information such as email and phone number, so that I may send you some intake paperwork and get you into my system.
The Intake Paperwork.
I will use my online platform to give you access to the online portal, where all of your information is kept safe and secure. In this portal you will have several documents to go over, including a Confidentiality statement, Consent for treatment and Intake paperwork. The intake paperwork will get a snapshot of your mental and physical health history, as well as information related to your current issues, family, and medical history. Of course, the more information you fill out, the more useful the intake will be, but it is always up to you how much you would like to share.
The Initial Session.
I won’t lie, this session can feel very much like an interview. In many ways, it is! My entire practice is based online via telehealth. You will get a link to calendar invite with a link where we will meet face to face via secure video. I will go over all of the intake paperwork with you verbally, to make sure that you are aware of the important and legal aspects of therapy. I will go through your history that you provided and ask for more details on some things, in order to get a clearer picture of who you are. I will give you the opportunity to expand and explain things, and you will also have the opportunity to ask me questions too! Therapy is an intimate relationship so it is natural to be curious and want to know about the person you are talking to.
Ongoing therapy can be really fun! It can also be difficult and sometimes it can be boring. Building a relationship takes time and just like any other relationship in your life, it will have ebbs and flows. Many therapists consider the therapeutic relationship to be a sample of what your other relationships are like, except that therapists reserve the right to call you out on your BS.
When you work with me, I will use humor, specific therapeutic techniques, direct communication, mindfulness, philosophy, breathwork, yoga, books, movies, music, and anything else that may help you to ultimately feel better. I will help you to see the world a little bit differently, to look at your problems in a new light and to take responsibility for your healing. I will be your biggest cheerleader, encouraging you to do the hard things when I know they will bring you the joy and happiness that you deserve. I will push you to do the work on the days that you don’t want to, and I will sit with you on the days that we know you can’t.
I believe that you are the expert on your life, and I am merely there to provide a new perspective. I like to use the image of both of us on a journey, climbing two different mountains. I can look at your mountain and see the routes from a different angle, to give you guidance on which way to try.
The amount of time you spend with a therapist can vary. Sometimes people come to work on a specific problem for a few months and stop therapy once that issue is resolved. Other times, people will come in for ongoing exploration and support and can spend years working with their therapist.
Contact me if you have any other questions about what it would be like to start working with me!