Not only is it hard to recognize when you need therapy or counseling services, it can be even harder to find a therapist who is the right fit for you. Moreover, if this is your first time looking into therapy or counselling services, you might feel confused or intimated by the process of finding a therapist or counselor. Understanding the role of the initial consultation in getting started with therapy can help you feel less intimated and more hopeful about finding the help you need and want most.
What is an Initial Consultation?
Before booking your first session with a psychologist or counselor, most therapists will ask to meet with you for a brief (15-20 minute) initial consultation. This initial meeting will allow you to gather more information about the provider and their practice—giving you a good sense of what it would be like to talk to them. It also allows the therapist to assess whether they can help you and answer any questions you may have about their practice.
Here are the 3 main goals of the initial consultation:
1) Assess Your Needs. During the initial consultation, a provider will ask you to briefly describe your symptoms and your goals for therapy. For example, you might describe what type of therapy you want (e.g. individual, couples, family, or group therapy), your age/age of the client (e.g. child, adolescent, adult), and broadly the type of problems you are looking to address (e.g. depression, anxiety, stress management, substance abuse, trauma, etc.). Because not all therapists are trained and experienced in helping every type of client, this information is then used by the therapist to determine whether they might be a good fit for you.
2) Learn How A Therapist Can Help. If the therapist/counselor determines they can help, they can begin to outline HOW they would help you reach your goals. During the consultation, the therapist or counselor will likely orient you briefly to their approach to therapy/counseling and clarify broadly what types of methods they use to help their clients. Information about the provider’s therapeutic approach is important to consider as you begin to assess whether you think this therapist is the fit for you.
3) Clarify Practice Policies. Initial consultations also allow you to ask about practice policies, including fees, insurance coverage, online/remote therapy options, provider availability, how to schedule appointments, and other resources (e.g. parking availability, provision of emergency services, etc.) that may be important to know before scheduling a first session.
The initial consultation allows for both you and your provider to evaluate whether it is beneficial to move forward and book the first session. It is a great way to gather important information about the process of psychotherapy and counseling and can set the foundation for a productive first session. Initial consultations can increase the likelihood of your compatibility with a specific clinician prior to committing to a first session and is an important part of any successful course of psychotherapy.
About Dr. Tanaka & Coronado Psych
Dr. Rika Tanaka (PSY30925) is a licensed psychologist and founder of Coronado Psych. At Coronado Psych, our mission is to offer high-quality, evidence-based psychological services and supportive counseling to our community. We currently have availability for new clients and are offering all sessions online or over-the-phone. We also have reduced fees available for healthcare and essential workers.
If you or someone you love is interested in therapy or supportive counseling, please feel free to contact Coronado Psych at (619) 554-0120 or email@example.com. You can also schedule a complimentary initial consultation at: https://coronado-psych.clientsecure.me.
Learn more by visiting our website (www.coronadopsych.com) or watching this brief video: