If it is the first time you have ever gone to see a psychologist, you might be wondering what to expect from an initial interview. Here are some thoughts that might be running through your mind: What should I do to prepare? Should I write some things down so I don’t forget what to say? What if my problems aren’t serious enough to warrant seeing a therapist? How will I ever be able to explain everything in just one hour? What will the therapist expect of me? All of these questions are very reasonable given the reality of walking into totally unknown territory with a complete stranger!
Actually, there are very few “rules or regs” when it comes to an initial interview. Of fundamental importance is the understanding that everything you share is strictly confidential. You can bring notes with you if you want but this certainly is not a necessity. Usually, the therapist’s goal is to get as good an idea as possible of why you are there and what you are looking for. While you need to take the lead in sharing what prompted you to call, after that, questions and information usually just flow from there. As for covering everything, of course an hour will only allow you to share the tip of the iceberg, but if you proceed with further sessions, there will be lots of time to fill in the blanks. Don’t worry about being at a loss for what to say. Typically, therapists ask lots of questions in an initial meeting. They are trying to get a good fix on your issues and history in order to determine whether therapy is a good option and whether their expertise and skill is the right fit for you.
If you are one of those people wondering about whether your problems are serious enough to warrant therapy, stop right there! Firstly, no one person’s pain can be compared to another’s. Secondly, contrary to what some may think, the people who come to therapy are not necessarily those with the most serious problems. The truth is, people who seek out therapy are not those who are in the most distress, they are just not afraid to ask for help.