So, you have found a counselor in Cleveland and you’ve even scheduled your first appointment. But what should you expect from counseling, therapy, psychotherapy, and coaching In Cleveland.
I’m here to help you with fill in the blanks. Here are some of the things you can expect in your first appointment with a therapist, counselor, psychotherapist or psychologist in Cleveland:
How will my therapist know I’ve arrived: The first thing you can expect is that the therapist will greet you in the waiting room at the time of your appointment. It could be they may have asked you to come early to fill out forms and if that is the case, usually they are available to you in the lobby, maybe on a clipboard. The therapist may have a call light that usually has their name marked on it. It’s designed to let the therapist know you are waiting. Other times, like in my practice for example, there is no call light and I’ll greet you at your appointed time.
Informed consent or Consent for Services: The therapist will usually first go over what we call an informed consent or consent for services. Basically, this is a document you probably have signed, either electronically or on paper, that states all the policies and procedures around the therapist office. Things included might be what to do in case of an emergency, their cancellation policies, their duty to warn and protect as well as policies around payment for services including any insurance specifics. The therapist should also go over it with you in the first session but even if they don’t you need to ask questions if you don’t fully understand the content of the informed consent.
Policies around payment: Some therapists collect their payment or any co-pay/co-insurance in the beginning of the session and some at end when they are scheduling your next appointment. Don’t be afraid to ask what they prefer and what forms of payment they accept.
Reason for referral: If you haven’t already talked to the therapist and indicated why you are seeking assistance, they will usually ask why you are needing counseling services now or they will want you to expand on what you had initially discussed in your phone consultation. It’s important to be thorough and honest with the therapist about what is going on so they best know how to help you.
Symptoms and its impact on your daily life: If you are experiencing any symptoms like shortness of breath, uncontrollable crying, racing thoughts, etc., be sure to tell the therapist about all the symptoms you are experiencing. Also, therapists will be looking to understand how it is impacting your everyday life in areas like social, occupational/educational, daily activities, etc.
History: Next they might want to explore your history. This includes things like your family of origin, any history of trauma, educational history, occupational history and relationship history. They will want to know if you’ve been in counseling before and ask about your previous experience. Also, they’ll want to know about you medically because the integration of mind and body is important in mental health treatment. Some medical conditions can often be masked as mental health conditions. Again, make sure to give them as much history as you feel comfortable and ready but the more history the more they are able to create a treatment plan suited just for you.
Treatment plans and goals: Now this may not happen until your next session but most therapist will formulate a treatment plan and treatment goals. This will include the frequency of treatment as well as target key areas you’d like to see an improvement on. This might be informally discussed at the end of the session or discussed in detail with a written plan. It should be co-created and something that is a living document of sorts.
Setting up your next session: Based upon the frequency of sessions conversation, you’re ready to schedule your next session. Some therapists make a specific day/time available for you every week and some schedule week-to-week. Ask them about their preference and relay your own as well.
Then breathe, you made it through your first session!
I hope this has been beneficial to you in finding the right counselor in Cleveland. If you are still feeling perplexed, feel free to call me at (440) 836-3186 for a free 15-minute consultation. I’d be happy to hear about what is going on and connect you to the right person. If you are looking for help with codependency or relationship issues, you can read more about how I can help here.