What to Expect on Your First Visit
Updated: Jan 25
You have made your first counseling appointment. But now what? The first thing you can expect is an invitation to our confidential online portal Simple Practice, where you can create a personal login id and password. Once logged into Simple Practice, you will be able to send and receive confidential emails to and from our office as well as check your appointment times. It is important for privacy and HIPAA compliance that any e-mails or correspondence occur through this platform.
Paperwork At RDU Counseling for Change, we ask our clients to complete an intake packet before their first session. Our administrative assistant will send this to you through Simple Practice after you make your initial appointment. This packet is similar to paperwork you sign at most other provider’s offices, like your insurance information, demographics, and acknowledgement of privacy practices. But we also include a few other things, such as your therapist’s disclosure statement and various psychological inventories. A disclosure statement is simply information about therapy, qualifications, types of services offered, session length and fees, and limits of confidentiality. By signing this document, you are consenting to treatment by our counselors. So please read over this carefully and inform us of any questions you may have.
As for the psychological inventories, we ask our clients to complete a checklist of any significant life events that may have impacted you, as well as any anxiety, depression, or PTSD symptoms. These screening tools will help us formulate a diagnosis and guide future treatment. We will always discuss these results with you at your first session. If we deem it necessary, we may administer additional inventories.
Prior to your first appointment, please complete the PDF packet and return it to us through Simple Practice. If you are unable to do so for any reason, please bring the printed and signed version along with you to your appointment and arrive 15 minutes early. This will also allow our administrator the opportunity to verify and confirm your insurance benefits. We find it helpful to do this before your initial appointment so you have a clear understanding of your financial obligations.
Intake Assessment and Goal Setting Once in with your counselor, you can expect the first session to be focused on an intake assessment. This is an opportunity for your counselor to ask questions such as your primary area of concern, symptoms you are having, educational history, and family and psychological history. We want to hear what brings you to therapy. Based on the information collected, we will be able to assess and formulate a treatment plan moving forward.
It is important that we establish mutually-agreed upon goals that you want to achieve during our time together. We use these goals as a baseline in which to measure your progress as well as to ensure you are getting the most out of our time together. It is our responsibility to make sure that we check in periodically with our clients to continue assessing these goals.
Diagnosis In order to file with your insurance company, we are required to assign a mental health diagnosis to your bill. Examples include Adjustment Disorder with symptoms of anxiety, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Bipolar Disorder and more. What is important for you to realize is that this diagnosis becomes a part of your medical record going forward. We are glad to discuss the diagnosis with you and how we came to this conclusion. If you are concerned about your diagnosis and do not want it recorded, you can pay for our sessions out-of-pocket and not take advantage of your insurance benefits. While a diagnosis can be a source of anxiety, it also helps guide our selection of evidence-based interventions.
If you have any additional questions about our initial session, please feel free to contact our office. We are here to help.