The initial therapy visit may vary from 45 minutes to a three hour evaluation. Typically, it is a one hour visit during which you meet your therapist, provide a history of your family and identify your concerns.
Traditionally, therapists gathered information from you over the first six sessions. This was known as the evaluation period. Now, with third parties paying for services for insured persons, that evaluation process is not necessarily covered or provided.
Therapist need to know about your family life now, your family of origin, your development as a child, your school, career and relationship histories. Each of these areas impacts how you see things and how you make decisions.
In addition, this is a good time to ask questions you have about the therapy process. Usually, the therapist will discuss his or her approach, how sessions are scheduled, the policies around scheduling and payment. Most importantly, you want to be able to tell your story and get an idea of how the therapist works.
Different therapists have different styles and they may alter their approach as they learn more about you and what seems to be most helpful to you. Some therapy is interactive and some provide you uninterrupted time to say what you feel is important. Let your therapist know what you are most comfortable with. Try to gain some idea of why your therapist might prefer an approach that seems mysterious to you.
Some insurance companies encourage specific therapy styles and clients often call requesting those styles, however, your therapist may choose an approach that his or her experience has taught them would be best for your type of problems.
The therapist will try to provide a consistent time, day and frequency of your visits so that you can feel secure in receiving the help you need. Know that your sessions and your discussions are supposed to be kept confidential. If you are using insurance to pay for your sessions, a psychiatric diagnosis is required and your therapist is required to provide treatment details to them when requested.
Don’t expect to feel an immediate connection to your therapist. Like you, your therapist may become more comfortable as time goes on. Your alliance with your therapist is a developing relationship – one that allows both of you to notice the type of feelings that show up in this and your other relationships. In this relationship, however, the therapist is to remain non-judgmental and to help you take a look at the feelings that emerge. Be brave and put your feelings on the table so that you and your therapist can examine the “real deal”.