First appointment with provider

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Your first session

Whether this is your first time starting therapy, or your first time with a new provider, it’s okay to feel nervous or uncomfortable. 

If the first visit doesn’t feel very “therapeutic” that’s okay. The goal of this first visit is for your provider to gather information so they can begin to formulate ideas on how to best support you.

Here’s an overview of topics and questions that may come up during the first session, to help you feel prepared.

Introduction & policies 

Your provider will typically start by introducing themselves and may review information related to limits of confidentiality, their privacy policy, how to contact them between sessions, and their cancellation policy. 

You may be asked to complete a few forms prior to the session or the provider may go through them with you during the session. These may include: 

  • HIPAA forms
  • Record release form
  • Therapist <> patient services agreement
  • Medical history (including any current medications) 
  • Questions about your history – childhood/upbringing, education, relationships (with family, friends, romantic partners), current living situation, career 

If you feel uncomfortable answering any of the questions asked, let your provider know. 

Gathering Info

Your provider will then focus on what is bringing you to therapy at this time and any symptoms (thoughts, feelings, or behaviors) you’re experiencing.

Some questions they may ask include: 

  • What would you like to be called? // How would you like to be addressed? (You can also share your pronouns)
  • What are your symptoms? // what are you experiencing that brought you to therapy? 
  • How long have you been experiencing these problems and/or having these thoughts/feelings?
  • Have you been in therapy before?
  • How do you typically cope with these symptoms? 
  • Who do you look to in your life for support?
  • Are there any spiritual, cultural, and/or religious factors that contribute to your identity and may influence/be a part of your care?
  • What are your goals for therapy? // what do you want to be different?
  • What would you need to see or feel to believe progress is being made? // what does progress look like?

It’s okay if you don’t know, or haven’t thought about, answers to some of these questions. Sharing this personal information with a provider you’re meeting for the first time can be difficult. You’re able to share as much or as little as you’d like. 

Self-reflection

Therapy requires multiple visits and the first step is building rapport and trust. You may not know right away if your provider is the right fit.  Before and after your first couple of sessions you should check-in with yourself. You may want to consider:

  • Do you feel like you could trust this person?
  • Do they seem knowledgeable about the issues you are experiencing? 
  • Do you feel respected? 
  • Do you feel heard and understood?
  • Does the therapist use language that reflects an understanding of your background and identities?
  • Do you feel distracted? Disengaged? 

Additional support

Being open and honest with your provider is a key aspect of therapy, which is why finding the right provider is important. After a few sessions, if you’re feeling like you want to try a new provider, you can always reach out to Headway’s Customer Experience team.

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