First contact

First appointment

The first appointment can, for some people, be both exciting and anxiety provoking while other people will take it in their stride. So while our individual reactions may differ, there are some elements of the first appointment that should be pretty much the same. 

It will be highly likely that the first appointment will be an assessment session. This means that the purpose of the session is for the therapist to find out what is troubling you and be able to establish an understanding of how therapy might be able to help you and make a recommendation for therapy or for another approach. 

On arriving, you may be asked to wait and, in some services, you might be asked to complete a few short questionnaires while you are waiting. These may be questionnaires you have seen before or not. Using questionnaires is common practice for therapists; in the same way that we might have our blood pressure taken when visiting the GP, then psychological therapy services often use patient-completed measures, particularly in the NHS, to help establish whether therapy is helping you or not. 

If there are any forms or questionnaires to complete, then you should expect to be able to complete these without other people seeing what you say. This may not mean having a room all to yourself – but you should be able to have a degree of privacy when completing it. 

Your initial appointment should start promptly in terms of the time you were allocated. You may have experienced long delays in hospital-based appointment times, but NHS psychological services tend to do relatively well in keeping to time. 

On meeting your therapist for the first time, they may well offer their hand as a form of welcome or just say hello.