The first (or first few) session(s), also known as an ‘intake’ are a bit different from the other sessions and can feel overwhelming. The purpose of the intake session(s) is for the therapist to get a really good picture of you, what brings you in, and what you are hoping to accomplish in therapy.
After you schedule your intake, your clinician will email you a link to a client portal and after you have signed up for your account; you will be asked to complete and electronically sign forms, such as informed consents, intake forms, releases of information, and possible quite long and very personal questionnaires. These are important to complete beforehand so the process doesn’t take up time during your first appointment.
An informed consent is the most important document that you will be asked to read carefully and sign before your intake appointment. An informed consent essentially lays out the framework for therapy. It will go over information such as payment agreement, cancellation policy, confidentiality, mandated reporting laws, tele-mental health policies and termination policies. Anything that is important to know and consent to.
Your therapist will greet you in the lobby and walk you to the office that the session will take place in. During that first meeting, they will go over the forms you have signed and then complete an assessment with you, that is, ask you a lot of very personal questions. The more information you provided in the questionnaires, the easier and faster this process will go. They will start by asking you what brings you in, and if you have been in therapy before. They will want to know if you have ever been hospitalized for psychiatric purposes and how you identify your gender, ethnicity and sexuality; where and how you grew up, your education, work and living arrangements, supports you have such as family and friends, involvement in the legal system and/or DHS. They will want to know if you have experienced trauma, if you have a history of suicide attempts or self-harm and if you are currently using any prescribed or non-prescribed substances.
Being open and honest with your therapist is important for them to get a really good picture. It can be really difficult to share things about your past, especially traumatic events; and if you are currently engaging in harmful behaviors and/ or having thoughts of suicide, you may wonder if disclosing this to your therapist is safe. These questions are normal and understandable. Your therapist will try to make the space safe and as comfortable as possible.
There will also be time for you to ask any questions you may have and to share your goals and expectations for therapy with the clinician. Based on this, you and your therapist will create a treatment plan.
The Next Sessions
Regular sessions last between 50 and 60 minutes and most commonly occur weekly. During this time, you have the space to discuss any topic that is important to you. If you are at risk for suicide or self-harm, or are engaging in therapy-interfering behaviors, your therapist may want to address those issues before talking about other topics. Dr. Jana Corbett’s style is rather solution focused and skills based, so you may learn coping strategies and be assigned homework to practice between sessions.
Still have questions? Call for a free 15 minute phone consult.