It is a very common question - what should I expect from my first meeting with my therapist? It is normal to feel nervous about this first meeting. Every therapist might have a slightly different approach in their pacing of the first session but the basic elements of the first session will be the same. Here are the steps you can expect from your first counseling session (typically called an “intake” session):
1. There will be intake paperwork to fill out.
One of the most important parts of the first therapy session, or the intake session, is the opportunity for your therapist to gather information about your history and reasons for seeking help in therapy. This most often begins with you filling out intake paperwork.
2. You will learn more about your rights as a client, especially your rights to confidentiality.
At the beginning of any intake session your therapist should explain your rights and limits to confidentiality in a way that you understand and feel comfortable with. This includes explaining confidentiality when the client is a minor.
3. Your therapist will explore more about your history by asking you questions.
The general categories of questions will be:
4. Your therapist will help you set treatment goals.
After spending time exploring and giving you the opportunity to express what you feel is important, you therapist will help you set treatment goals. This way you and the therapist can be on the same page in terms of what you would like to be working on together.
5. You and the therapist will set your next appointment.
If you express interest in continuing therapy, you and your therapist will work together to set the next time that you will come in.
Typically the intake session looks very different than the rest of the therapy sessions. Your therapist will most likely take notes during the intake session and may not continue to take notes during future sessions. The intake session may feel different than future sessions because the focus is typically information gathering with the potential for less focus on emotional processing of events. The intake session enables both you and the therapist to make an informed decision about goals for treatment and what the plan for treatment will look like going forward.
Note: Intake sessions for minors will typically look different than intake sessions for adults.