What to Expect at Your First Counseling Appointment
- It’s normal to feel nervous about your first counseling appointment. I understand that it’s hard to talk to someone you don't know about your personal problems. It might help you to feel less nervous if you know what to expect on your first visit.
- Please plan to arrive 10-15 minutes early to fill out some paperwork and your rights as a client. When you are finished with your paperwork I will review it with you.
- We will have a discussion that will include your rights as a client and issues of confidentiality. The things you discuss with me and the contents of your counseling record are subject to strict legal and ethical standards of confidentiality and privacy. This means that I will not release any information, or even the fact that I have met with you, to anyone (including parents, professors, friends, or school administration) without your permission. I am abided by the same HIPPA regulations are you will be when you are a physician. There are, however, a few limits on confidentiality. Exceptions to confidentiality do exist in the following rare circumstances:
1) When a clinician has reason to believe that imminent danger of harm exists with regard to your safety or someone else’s
2) When a clinician learns of ongoing abuse or neglect of a person under the age of 18 – state law requires us to report this to child protection services.
3) When a court order, issued by a judge, requires us to release records or testify in a hearing. These are further reviewed during the first appointment.
- After that, I will ask you to describe why you came for counseling. I may ask questions about all the different parts of your life in order to get to know you more and to understand how the problem fits into and/or affects other areas of your life, which will help you to explain why you are meeting with me.
- It is important to understand that you and I are partners in understanding and working on your problem. If there's something you want me to know but I haven't asked yet, feel free to offer the information. If you have questions or concerns about counseling or any other issue, it is important to ask. The better you can communicate your worries or needs, the better I will be able to respond to your concerns or needs.
- At the end of the first meeting, I will ask you or help you to develop some goals for counseling. It’s helpful to discuss some goals for counseling so that you and I are on the same page and understand what you want to accomplish in sessions. We will then discuss recommendations about how you could best achieve your goals, which may include individual counseling, meet and greets, referral for more evaluation, or a consultation with a health professional.