It’s likely that you are feeling a little anxious about taking the first step to working with a therapist. This is quite normal, as you probably feel quite vulnerable about seeking support, and talking about your struggles or mental health concerns, with someone you don’t know yet.
Your therapist will do everything they can to assist you in feeling comfortable. Once in the building, they will walk you through from the waiting room to the therapy office. When you enter their office you will be invited to sit in a place where you feel comfortable. Often small general conversation will follow, as you will likely need a few moments to orient yourself to your new surroundings.
If you completed the Terms and Conditions document online with your therapist then this next step may not occur. If you did not, then you will be read the terms of confidentiality, including the reasonable exceptions to this right, and your therapist will seek your consent to these terms.
Confidentiality is the bedrock of the counselling or therapy relationship. To feel safe with a therapist you need to know that what you say is held to high standards of confidentiality. In couples therapy this confidentiality includes your partner or spouse, but otherwise everything you speak about will be held as confidential. Some reasonable exceptions apply, such as if you speak about a child being harmed, but otherwise everything you say remains private and confidential. Our therapists are registered social workers, and are bound to standards of ethical behaviour as governed by the College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. We are also legally bound to the requirements of the Personal Health Information Protection Act, Ontario.
Your first session with a therapist will likely be a consultation session. This consultation does not commit you to working with the therapist. The goals in the consultation are to find out whether psychotherapy would be useful to you and whether this particular therapist is likely to be helpful. During this session, you may want to discuss with the therapist any values that are particularly important to you. If your therapist’s views are very different from yours, you may want to find a more compatible therapist.
This first session is a time for you to determine whether you will feel comfortable, confident, and motivated in working with this particular therapist. You should also feel that you can trust and respect your therapist and that your therapist is understanding of your situation. This is also the time for the therapist to decide whether he or she is a good match for you. At times, a therapist may refer you to another therapist who may be able to work better with you.
After you’ve decided to work with a particular therapist, the next few sessions are usually devoted to talking about the circumstances that have brought you to therapy. Generally, during this time (assessment) your therapist will be asking quite specific questions about the concerns or problems causing your distress and about when and where they occur.