So you made the decision to start therapy. You sorted through lists of available therapists, found Star Meadow, and made an appointment. Congratulations! This is the hardest step, and we’re so proud of you for taking it. For most people who have never been to therapy there is some anxiety about what happens next, so let’s walk through what you can expect.
You’ll also receive some questionnaires and survey forms. Just like when you go to the doctor’s office, these forms are standardized for everyone so there may be questions that don’t seem relevant to you or why you’re coming in. There is so much more to you than what we can fit on these intake documents, but they are a good starting place so your therapist knows what things might be important to talk about in your intake session.
- Arriving For Your Appointment
If your appointment is in-person, you will make your way to our office (10000 NE 7th Ave. Suite 403, Vancouver, WA 98685). We have free parking, and you’ll take either the stairs or elevator to the 4th floor. Inside our waiting room, you’ll take a seat until your therapist comes to call you back to their room.
If your appointment is via telehealth, you’ll receive a link from Simple Practice letting you know it’s time to join your appointment. Make sure you’re in a private, comfortable space with your ID handy. Your therapist will ask you to confirm your identity and that no one else is present in the room, and then you’ll get started!
- The Intake Appointment
You made it! If meeting in person, your therapist’s office will have several different seating options; please sit where you feel most comfortable! The beginning of every intake session includes a few more administrative tasks like confirming your insurance details and signing any remaining consent or release forms. The intake process varies between clinicians, but generally, you can expect an introduction and orientation to how they structure their intake sessions, and then an open invitation to let them know what brings you to therapy. If you don’t feel like you know how to sum things up, that’s ok! We’re trained to help guide you, and we will go at your pace. Many therapists ask a series of questions to explore things that might be contributing to how you’re feeling like your family/relationship dynamics, medical history, work or school history, and past experiences. Please know that at any point if you are not comfortable discussing something, it is absolutely appropriate to let your therapist know this. Their goal is to understand what’s happening for you to help you feel better as quickly as possible, but always at your pace.
- What Happens Next
Some therapists start planning structured goals and identifying a treatment plan right away, while others prefer to set broad goals for now with the idea of defining them as they get to know you more. If you are using insurance, your therapist is required to list a diagnosis. This is what tells insurance to authorize covering your sessions. Sometimes that is clear in a first session, and sometimes they need to list a more general diagnosis, to be more clearly defined once they work with you more. Please remember that your medical information (which includes mental health documents) is confidential and covered by HIPAA. For more information on this please visit: https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/hipaa-privacy-rule-and-sharing-info-related-to-mental-health.pdf
The intake session can feel like a lot of information, but most folks find the second session to be more representative of what therapy with your provider will look like. If at any point you are feeling uncomfortable, want to slow down, or need something different please say so! Therapy is intended to be a collaborative process, and your therapist will be open to feedback about what you need.
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