The first 5-10 minutes
Each therapist will have their own way of starting a session – and there are various possibilities. For example, one practitioner might spend the first 5 or 10 minutes talking about what will happen and about practicalities (e.g., appointment times, length of a session, etc.). On the other hand, another professional might begin almost straight away by saying something like: “Now, tell me, what has been troubling you?” Some therapists even wait patiently for you to start talking.
However, there are some points that can be expected in most cases:
- Introductions: You may be unsure whether to call the therapist by their first name or whether to be more formal. Do whatever you feel most comfortable with. However, if you feel the therapist is being too informal in the way he or she addresses you (e.g. using your first name straight away) you are entitled to say so. It would be usual for you and your therapist to use the same form with each other, so if he or she uses your first name, then they would expect you to do the same. What’s important is that you feel you are being treated with respect
- Practicalities: The therapist may spend the initial minutes providing a very brief introduction to themselves (e.g., their training and experience) and may also make reference to any material they have received that relates to you (e.g., a letter from your GP).
- Confidentiality: It should be made clear to you that anything you say in the assessment (or subsequent) therapy is confidential. Notes and any recording (see next point) should all be kept under lock and key within the practice setting. They should not leave the premises.
- Audio recording: Some professionals audiotape their sessions. This is for their professional use and their supervision, with the aim of ensuring better quality therapy for you. If they do, then they must ask your permission. If you have concerns, then raise them with your therapist.
Assessment I went for an initial meeting, an assessment, with the therapist and was offered six sessions
The assessment can take many forms, and in the first part of the session the therapist may explain this. For example, your professional may start by taking a history of the troubles you have been experiencing. Or they might ask you to complete some forms, or go over any forms that you completed before the session. They may ask you to ‘tell your story’. Whatever format the assessment takes, you should feel you have the opportunity to tell the therapist about the issues that are troubling you.
Timing of sessions
It is likely that the timing and date of the first appointment will have been determined because it was the first available slot. It does not necessarily mean that subsequent sessions will be on the same day or at the same time. Times of subsequent sessions may be able to be re-arranged but this needs to be discussed with your therapist.