What is the purpose of the initial consultation with your new psychologist or therapist? Most clinicians offer some form of an initial consultation for clients prior to booking their first session.
This allows for you, a potential client, to gather more information about the provider and their practice. It also allows the therapist to assess whether they can be of service to you. The consultation is used to broadly assess reasons for seeking psychotherapy and other important information to ensure that the therapist is the right fit for you.
There are 3 main goals of the initial consultation:
Broadly assess your needs and whether the therapist can meet those needs.
During the initial consultation, a provider’s goal is often to determine if your needs fit within the scope of their practice. For example, it is common for clinicians to specialize in providing services to clients within certain age groups (e.g. adults or children only) or with specific diagnoses. It is important to clarify who the client will be (e.g. individuals, couples, or families) and what types of problems the client is looking to address, as not all providers are trained to address every client’s potential needs.
Inform the client about how psychotherapy can be helpful
Once it is established that the provider might be a good fit for you, it is important to use the initial consultation as an opportunity for you to learn about HOW this provider may be able to help. During the consultation, the provider will likely orient you briefly to their approach to psychotherapy and clarify broadly what types of methods they use to help their clients. Information about the provider’s therapeutic approach is important to consider as you begin to assess whether you think this therapist is the fit for you.
Orient the client to the practice
Initial consultations are also a great way for clients to learn more about practice policies. Important logistical information can be clarified, including fees, insurance coverage, online/remote therapy options, provider availability (e.g. is there a waitlist; and if so, how long is the wait?), how to schedule appointments moving forward, and other resources (e.g. parking availability, provision of emergency services, etc.) that may be important to know before scheduling a first session.
Despite the initial consultation being brief, there is a significant exchange of information. This information is important to evaluate whether it is beneficial to move forward and book the first session. Ultimately, initial consultations can set the foundation for a productive first session and increase the likelihood of your compatibility with a specific clinician—an important part of any successful course of psychotherapy.
If you would like to access care and want more information about our services at Coronado Psych, please contact us at 619-554-0120, firstname.lastname@example.org, or click here to schedule an initial consultation.