Are you new to therapy?
Hey! I have been involved in the therapy field for so long that it seems very familiar to me. However, I often get new clients who are coming to therapy for the first time and they are normally pretty cautious.
The media has set up a lot of expectations for people about what the whole experience of therapy will look like. While some of it is pretty accurate, a lot of it is not! I can't tell you what your experience will be like with every therapist out there because everyone operates very differently, but I can give you some insight to what you might expect if you were to contact me and come to therapy for the first time.
Step 1: The phone call
Before anyone ever steps foot into my offie, we first spend some time on the phone. Either I call in response to an email inquiry, or I'm able to answer when a prospective client calls, but either way we end up on the phone. I normally like to talk for about 15 minutes for both of us to get a feel for talking to each other. I want you to CHOOSE me to be your therapist because you feel that we would be a good match. You will know we are a good match if you feel comfortable speaking with me (even if it is awkward talking to a stranger!), if you feel that I may be someone who would listen to your concerns, and if you want to continue speaking with me in person. I will also get the chance to determine if we are a good fit based on what I'm looking for. I like to work with people who I feel that I have something to offer. I want our time together to be successful. If I don't feel that I have a good grasp on what you are struggling with, or if I don't confident that I have something to offer, I will usually direct you to someone who would be a better match. We will discuss fees and appointment times, and you can ask any remaining questions you may have. Bottom line: if it isn't comfortable or enjoyable for us to talk, we probably aren't a good match.
Step 2: The initial session
The first session is a continuation of the phone call. It is another chance to make sure we are a good fit, and that we connect in person. I normally ask you to arrive 10-15 minutes early to fill out new-client paperwork. Once the session starts we have some paperwork that I am legally required to go over so that you you understand what it is that you are signing up for. We discuss confidentiality and its limits. We will go over me missed session/late cancelation policy. Once we complete the paperwork we can begin our conversation. I will ask a lot of questions on the first session or two in order to get some background information. I use this information to conceptualize YOU as a person including important events that have happened in your life, family dynamics, and current circumstances. The more truthful and open you are, the better I can be at understand you and deciding how to tailor a plan to provide you with the best results. During the initial session I will also ask you about your goals and motivations for coming to therapy. What do you want me to help you with? Bottom line: it is like a mix between sitting with a nosey new friend and giving your medical doctor your life history. Not too bad!
Step 3: The therapy process
Depending on your history, your current needs, your desires, and your willingness to work, we will begin our process. I will hold a safe space for you to explore yourself while providing boundaries and gently deepening your awareness. Sometimes I will challenge things that you say, and sometimes I will ask you hard questions, but mostly I will support you in self-reflection so that you come to understand what drives you and you can begin to make different choices in your life. Contrary to popular belief, therapist DO NOT offer advise. I will never tell you what to do. Normally, if you come to me with a dilemma and ask what you should do my response will be "Well, that's a tough one. What do you think you should do?". I want to support your life choices, and though I may suggest new things for you to try I will never make your decisions for you. I can do my best to get to know you but I can never fully understand what it feels like to walk a day in your shoes. Bottom line: I am a supportive catalyst for your own inner growth and understanding.
I hope that this description helps you feel a little less intimidated by the process. I do my best to make it enjoyable and easy to begin and we will always move at a pace that feels comfortable to you.