You’ve found my website and you think you might like to work with me What next?
- Your name and contact information (telephone or email)
- Some general times you can be reached
When I call you back, you can decide if you would like to ask me some questions on the phone or set up the half hour consultation to see if working together feels like a match. I will not feel insulted if you tell me that you are meeting with a few therapists. I will likely say that I think this is a good idea. I will encourage you to find the person you feel most comfortable working with. My office is at 1355 W 13th, (The Sage House), between Taylor and Polk. You can park on the street, in the alley or in the parking lot of the church across the road. The house looks like a home, come in the front door. The waiting room is the living room of the house.
- Basic demographic and contact information
- Important medical history
- Current prescriptions/medications
- Emergency contact information
- Previous therapy experience
- Your presenting problems
- Drug and alcohol use
- Your initial goals for therapy
There will also be a consent form for you to sign. The consent form will include information about canceling/rescheduling sessions, contact outside of scheduled appointments, procedures for mental health emergencies, and confidentiality. Feel free to ask me any questions about the paperwork. During our first meeting, I will be interested in gathering general information about you, such as your personal, social, occupational, developmental and psychiatric functioning, history and current concerns. Possible questions might include:
- What are the main concerns or issues that bring you to therapy at this time?
- What have you done in the past in a similar situation that you have found helpful?
- What have you tried in the past that did not work?
- What are the main goals you want to accomplish by coming to therapy?
- What qualities to do you seek in a therapist?
- How often would you like to meet and how long do you expect to come for therapy?
- Is there anyone else that you’d like to participate with you in therapy?
I will be warmly attentive to your responses and will ask clarifying questions about anything that I want to understand further. My goal will be to help you feel welcome, comfortable and at ease. I will offer you a cup of tea every time that we meet. You are not obliged to drink tea. On occasion I might ask for permission to contact previous or current alternate health providers, to learn about your treatment. It is your choice whether you allow me to contact your health providers. If you decide to allow me to speak to them, I will invite you to sign a consent form that gives me permission to do so. The first session is also a time for you to ask questions about me too. Here are a list of possible topics you might like to ask me about:
- What is your Licensure?
- What level of education do you have?
- What is your general therapeutic orientation?
- Do you give your clients homework assignments?
- Are you open to using expressive therapies (i.e. art)?
- Do you have any areas of speciality?
- How long do you typically see clients?
- Do you take insurance?
- Are you available for short phone sessions or email correspondence outside of scheduled appointment times? Do you charge for these?
- What is your position on medication?
- Do you mainly listen, or do you also give your own opinions?
- Do you usually take notes?
- Where do you come from?
Towards the end of our first meeting, we can talk about whether we feel like it would be a good match for us to work together. At this point, you can decide whether you would like to continue to meet with me. You are under no obligation to do so. If you’re unsure by the end of the first session, it’s perfectly okay to say “I will call you in the next couple of days if I decide that we are a good match.” How would you know if I am the right therapist for you?
- What does it feel like for you to be with the me? Do you feel comfortable? Safe? Is talking easy?
- Do you feel like you can trust me?
- Was I able to explain how I can help you?
- Do I have previous experience with your particular issues? Do you feel like I am qualified to help you reach your goals?
Is What I Say Confidential? In general, yes. There are laws that protect the communication between a client and therapist. No information will be disclosed to anyone without your written permission. However, there are some important exceptions:
- Suspected child abuse, dependent abuse, or elder abuse.
- Client is threatening serious physical harm to another person.
- Client intends to harm him/herself.
In these cases, I am required by law to report this to the appropriate authorities – this is called “mandated reporting.” Will I Take Notes? I will likely take notes during the first session as I become familiar with the key players in your life. I will also take note of significant topics that I want to be sure to come back to. I will take less in-session notes in subsequent sessions Feel free to discuss your concerns about confidentiality or note taking with me. Your comfort and safety are of the utmost importance in this relationship. Does Insurance Cover Therapy? Check directly with your insurance company to inquire about your plan’s coverage. Here are some questions that might be helpful to ask:
- What about my mental health benefits under my plan?
- What amount will insurance cover per therapy session?
- How many sessions are covered?
- Can I go to an out-of-network provider? Will my insurance pay?
- Do I need prior approval from my primary care physician?
- Will I need the therapist to give me a diagnostic evaluation for insurance purposes?
For incoming transgender clients: I follow the WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health) standards of care. Some First Session Self Care Tips: Don’t schedule anything pressing immediately after your appointment. You might want some time to decompress and think things through. Only say what you’re comfortable saying – you don’t have to go into everything in our first session. Write down a list of what you’d like to speak about. If, during the session, you get too anxious, you can give this list to me to use as a starting point. If you’re unsure where to start, I will help you figure this out. This is a collaborative relationship. I will be working with you and for you. Remember that you are always in control of what and how much you say. You can choose which chair you sit on. Be gentle with yourself. Initiating counseling can feel like a huge step and it can initially feel scary to begin this new relationship. I understand. Being scared and being brave go together. I look forward to meeting you.