Time to Begin: What Happens in the Intake Session
The therapeutic journey can be intimidating and overwhelming AND should be healing and transformative. People seek therapy for many different reasons and generally benefit from support when navigating transition, milestones, health difficulties, relationship challenges, and identity exploration. In every journey, getting started can be one of the hardest parts. It sets the foundation for what is to come. Let’s explore what to expect when getting started on your therapy journey.
There is a process to therapy. This can look a little different depending on the therapist. The first session of the therapy process is called the intake session. The intake session is unique. I like to call this the foundation because we are building and establishing the therapeutic relationship and goals. Many things happen during this first session. There will be joining (I know what this means, but can you define it to the layman?), plenty of questions, and rapid relationship building.
Introductions: You get to talk about what brings you to therapy, expectations, hopes, concerns and feelings.
Therapeutic relationship: You and the therapist can begin creating a safe space to build trust and rapport
Therapy goals: you and the therapist will discuss your goals for therapy. This becomes your treatment plan aka accountability partner while on your healing journey
Therapeutic approach: The therapist will talk about their approach and will ask about your preferences, needs, thoughts and any non-negotiables about the therapy process
Background: You will be asked questions about many areas of your personal, family and cultural history
Assessment: The therapist will ask deeper questions about your experiences, emotions, thoughts, strengths and growth areas to gain better insight and understanding of you, your life, your relationships and how all this influences your mental health and wellness
Diagnosis and Treatment plan: We'll create a treatment plan that identifies your goals, objectives in meeting your goals and offer a mental health diagnosis as it makes sense for your situation and needs. The treatment plan is a unique outline to referance and track health progress
Work Together: You and your therapist will work together to create a plan and goals for your unique therapy journey
The Boring Stuff: You will discuss the logistics including things like scheduling, therapy structure, session frequency (ex, weekly), payments and more
The list above may have given you a good idea and picture of why the intake session looks different from a typical session. 50 minutes can go by fast and there is a lot to life! The therapist will likely gather more information during the first 2-3 sessions.The main focus of the intake session is to establish a safe and comfortable space to openly process and express your thoughts and emotions, build a connection and trusting relationship with your therapist, and together create your unique therapeutic goals and plan.