Finding a therapist can be daunting and reaching out can feel intimidating. I thought I’d share a little more about what you can expect if you’re interested in setting up an initial phone consultation and a first therapy appointment with me. My hope is that this demystifies the process a little and decreases any reluctance to take the first step.
Free Phone Consultation
Phone consultations are typically about 15 minutes and give us a chance to get to know each other. I’ll ask you about what symptoms have been bothering you lately. The goal here is for me to get an initial sense of if I have the skill set to help you with the kinds of things you want help with. What would make me a good fit?
My areas of expertise are anxiety and OCD and so most issues that fall under that umbrella are a good fit. These include:
- panic attacks and worry about having another attack
- agoraphobia or feeling afraid to leave the house or other safe spaces
- social anxiety
- fears of specific things (for example driving, dogs, needles, urinating in public, vomiting, etc.)
- worry, rumination, and other forms of overthinking
- health anxiety and fears of having medical problems
If, however, what you’re describing is not something I feel confident in helping you with, I’ll share that with you. From there I’ll give some names and contact information for other people who are well-trained to help with those concerns.
For example, it’s to be expected to have anxiety when dealing with distress in your romantic relationship. If that distress is related to relationship OCD, I’m the right person to help. If, however, the stress seems to come from frequent conflicts and difficult communicating effectively, a couples therapist is probably better suited to help you.
During this initial call I’ll also tell you a little about my general approach to therapy. I’m an active therapist and my focus is on teaching you everything I can about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for anxiety and exposure and response prevention therapy for OCD. I’m goal oriented and solution focused. That means in session I’ll provide information and worksheets and we’ll often do exercises and activities together. My goal is to teach you skills and strategies to decrease your symptoms. I’m a good fit for people who are ready to dive in and work hard to make changes. I often ask my clients to make time outside or sessions to practice what we talk about and then bring notes and feedback to our meetings so we can trouble shoot together.
If you’re not sure you’re ready to make changes and are looking for something more like “talk therapy” and someone who can primarily provide supportive listening and validation, we may not be suited for each other.
If it seems like a fit after this initial chat, we schedule the first intake session.
The First Therapy Appointment
There are a few goals for our first appointment. One of these is for both of us to get on the same page in terms of your symptoms and how they’re getting in the way for you. I go through something called a diagnostic interview, which covers all of the different anxiety and mood disorders. I ask a lot of questions. Some of the questions might apply to you and some of them won’t, but I ask everyone the same questions to make sure I’m not missing anything important. For the questions that I apply to you, I’ll ask follow up questions and for more details. For the questions that don’t apply to you, we’ll skip over those sections of the assessment
At the end of that first meeting I share my impressions with you. If you’d like to know which diagnoses might make sense for you (if any), I share that with you and explain why. If you’d rather not know or aren’t interested in labels, I summarize the symptoms I see as most prominent.
If after talking more I have the impression that I’m not the best fit for you, I let you know that and give you some options for people who are more skilled than me in the areas where you might need more help.
If I think I can help, I briefly outline the treatment plan I think would make the most sense and answer any questions you have. Then we’re at something of a stopping point. If you feel good about the fit and the treatment plan, we go ahead and start the therapy part of the work together. If the treatment plan doesn’t sound like what you’re interested in or the fit isn’t clicking for you, I’m happy to provide information for other providers who might be closer to what you had in mind.
I know it can be overwhelming to find the right therapist. If that person isn’t me, I’ll do my best to connect you with someone who is.
Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or if you’d like to set up a consultation.