If you've never had any kind of psychotherapy, counseling, or mental health treatment, you may be a little nervous about how it works. That's normal!
Getting started is really very simple: make an appointment (instructions are on the next page) and arrive at your appointment with your registration sheet and problem list - or simply come to your appointment and do the paperwork in the office. You'll need to have your insurance card and any copay, if you have one.
At your first visit, I will ask you what brings you in. You can talk freely, knowing that what you say is in strict confidence. After we have talked about your problem or issues, I will spend some time asking you about your history. By the end of the hour, I want to have a formulation of your problem that sounds accurate to both of us, and then discuss ways we can go about working on it - that is, what your treatment options are. If I think medication might help, I'll discuss that with you. I don't prescribe medications, and I don't push them, but I will tell you if I think they might be helpful. But it's always your choice whether to go that route. Then, if you decide to continue, we set up our first therapy appointment.
And then you leave, hopefully feeling a little better, knowing you have taken an important step in dealing with your problems.
At the second appointment we usually set a plan: what we're going to work on, and what your goals are. This will be our roadmap, so you never feel like you're wandering aimlessly, and we both understand what we're doing and where we're going.
Therapy can last from a few minutes to a few years. Sessions officially are 45 minutes in length, and I usually work weekly with a person at least until things are under way. Then we can adjust frequency as necessary. I always aim for the most effective, fastest route to resolve your issues, being very careful not to waste time and money. But that doesn't mean I rush you, either. I go at the pace you need. And if at any time you feel we're not addressing your needs, or therapy is not hitting home for you, I encourage you to tell me so we can correct our course.
Therapy usually concludes with a mutual recognition that you have dealt with what you came in to deal with, and you can now cope with life on your own. And that's a good feeling for both of us!