What to Expect on your First Visit
During your first visit we will begin by going over your concerns and getting an overview of your personal history. We will discuss things such as when your difficulties first began, what you feel may have contributed, and how your difficulties have affected your relationships, work or other aspects of your life. In reviewing your personal history we may cover areas such as details about your experiences growing up, your education, and work experiences, aspects of your intimate relationships and friendships, and whether you use medication, alcohol or drugs. This information-gathering phase can take one or more sessions and may be supplemented by psychological testing.
Psychological tests are used to give us a better understanding of your strengths and difficulties. They help us gain an understanding of your current mood, coping mechanisms and other relevant aspects of your functioning. If we suggest the use of a test, we will always provide you with feedback about the results and how they can be used to facilitate our work together.
Following the information-gathering phase, which may or may not include psychological testing, it is important that we take time to establish some specific objectives for our work together. Effective treatment is built on a relationship of mutual trust and respect. We will work together collaboratively. In other words, psychotherapy is a form of treatment that involves helping you to access your own strengths and inner resources in order to overcome difficulties you’re experiencing or to let go of self-limiting patterns.
Questions that you may want to ask in order to make an informed decision about whether this is the right approach and practitioner for you include:
- Have you treated many people with this kind of problem?
- What kind of psychotherapeutic approach do you use and how does it work?
- What can I expect at the end of our work?
Treatments or psychotherapeutic approaches used by psychologists should be empirically-supported treatments – in other words treatments which research has proven to be effective. Common types of treatments include interpersonal psychotherapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, or cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy. Each of these treatment can be offered in an individual, group, couple or family format.
What Happens During Psychological Treatment?
Early on in the treatment we will work together to establish specific treatment goals and identify the ways therapy will help you achieve them. Goals can include feeling less depressed, feeling more comfortable in social situations, improving pain management, changing your behaviour, or increasing self-esteem. At certain intervals over the course of our work together we will take time to review progress on these goals. This may involve stepping back to discuss where we are at, or occasionally having you complete some brief questionnaires designed to help monitor progress.
It is important to recognize that it can be hard work to change feelings, thoughts and behaviour – you will need to be patient with your self and ready to commit to attending sessions regularly and follow through on recommendations. One thing that can not be changed is the past but you can change how it affects you. It is also difficult to change the behaviour of other people. Psychological treatment is primarily focused on helping you make personal changes to improve your life.