What Should I Expect?

What should I expect in the first appointment?

The initial appointment involves a detailed assessment to understand you and your particular situation, current problems, background, and your strengths and resources in order to develop an appropriate plan for treatment. At the end of the consultation, we will provide you with our initial impressions and recommendations. If we recommend therapy, we will work with you to develop a treatment plan, including goals and approximate time frames. Sometimes an individual’s primary concerns or symptoms are not within our area of expertise. If this happens, we will refer you to another professional who can help.

How long are sessions? How often would we meet?

Sessions are 50 minutes long and typically occur once per week, although depending on the nature and severity of your problem(s), they may be more or less frequent. Weekly sessions help to develop a strong therapeutic relationship and establish momentum toward your treatment goals. Session frequency may be tapered as you progress and become more comfortable applying what you have learned in therapy.

How long will psychotherapy last?

This is a reasonable question and difficult to predict. Research shows that the duration of therapy is variable and can be influenced by the specific therapy interventions used, the strength of the relationship with your therapist, as well as factors specific to you. These other factors may include your goals, personal characteristics, the nature, severity, chronicity, and complexity of the problem(s) you are experiencing, external factors such as what else is happening in your life and available social support, the extent to which you actively engage in the treatment, and how comfortable you are with making changes.

Depending on your specific needs and goals, therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with recurrent life patterns or your desire for more in-depth personal growth. Some clients experience significant improvement very quickly (4-8 sessions) but generally treatment length ranges from 12-20 sessions for issues such as moderate anxiety or depression. More pervasive or chronic patterns of thinking, feeling, or behaving may require longer term treatment. Therapy is a collaborative process and your progress and goals will be discussed during the course of treatment.

Choosing the right psychotherapist

Regardless of education and or training, you deserve to find someone that "gets" you and you feel comfortable with. Don't be afraid to shop around before choosing the right psychotherapist. Ask psychotherapists questions to find out if you are comfortable with their style and approach. Below are some sample questions.

  • What educational and professional training do you have?
  • How many years of experience do you have working as a psychotherapist?
  • Do you have specific training or experience working with my particular issue (e.g., trauma, eating disorders, childhood abuse)?
  • What is your approach to psychotherapy for my specific problem?
  • Are you a member of a regulated association, professional organization, or college?