This first session is important for allowing your Psychologist to get to know your story – the more open and collaborative you are, the easier the process will be.
Due to some necessary formalities and introductions, the first session will be structured just like your subsequent or follow-up sessions. Here’s a guide of what you could expect, and how to make the most of the time:
Logistics: If you haven’t been to The READ Clinic before, allow enough travel time to comfortably find our Karalta Road location and parking (there is ample parking out the front of the building)
Forms: You might have been asked to arrive about 10- 15 minutes early, this will be to read through and sign any paperwork. These typically include consent forms, a notice about the confidentiality of treatment, any policies the clinic has about deposits, late cancellations and privacy and consent information. The letters below contain most of these details and provide you with additional information that you may want to bring.
Introduction: Typically you’re sitting in the waiting room; your psychologist will come into the reception area and discreetly ask our receptionist’s to which person you are. They will head over to you and introduce themselves. You’ll walk down the corridor to their room to start your first session.
Your Story: With business aside, the Psychologist will ask something like: “So, what brings you here today?” Here’s where you give a thumbnail sketch of your story. You’ll have plenty of time to fill in the gaps. You can go about this however you’d like: starting with where you were born and moving forward, or starting with your current issue and moving back. You are more than welcome to bring notes about what has been on your mind. Either way, your therapist will help by asking questions that help him or her understand who you are and what problems you’re facing. Here’s where you’ll really get a feel for therapy – how it feels to talk about yourself, how your psychologist pays attention and how comfortable the conversation feels.
Feedback: In the last few minutes of the session, your psychologist may want to summarize what you discussed and give some feedback. According to his or her experience and therapeutic orientation, he or she may give you a formulation. A formulation is how the psychologist has conceptualised the issues you face and what is causing these issues. They may also provide you with an outline of how the two of you might go about addressing the issues.
Time’s Up: You don’t need to watch the clock; your psychologist will let you know when the session is over. All counselling sessions are based on a 50 minute hour. Hopefully, by this point you’ve worked through any first-session anxiety, you’ve got an idea of how the process works, you’ve been able to tell some of your story and you’re beginning to formulate a plan of action with your psychologist. You can cover a lot of ground in 50 minutes.
Reflect: It is often suggested you take some time after the session to think about what was said and how you felt. Were there any red flags? Did you feel comfortable being open and honest? Were there questions you forgot to ask, or info you weren’t able to share? What do you want to talk about next time?
If your first session went well, great. If not, you can either choose another psychologist or return to discuss your concerns with your current one. You’re not stuck in this therapy, not now, not ever. Hopefully, there’s a good match from the beginning, and you’re getting the help you need.