Reaching out to a therapist is an act of bravery and self-preservation. Fear not. You are about to do something that can change your life for the better! Empowering, right? I explain here what you can expect during that first phone call to demystify it for you. Let's dig in and get you one step closer to feeling better.
Here’s how that first call typically goes… You call me (insert muzak). I want to talk with you, but I may not be available to answer (I turn my phone off when I’m with clients so that they have my undivided attention). Please leave me a message. Tell me your name, your phone number, and a good time to reach you. I try to get back to people ASAP (within 24 hours). If I don’t reach YOU when I call, I’ll leave a message and so the game of phone tag begins. ;)
When we connect (free 15 minute phone consultation) this is a conversation. In part, it’s our first dress rehearsal to see if we feel like a good fit. I want you to get your needs met. You may decide you want XYZ and not me- (though a friend recently told me my voice sounded like “buttah”…insert Massachusetts accent). If for some reason I don’t think I can offer you what you are looking for, I’ve got a list of other therapists I trust and respect to refer you to. FYI- It is typical to take a few sessions together to decide if we are a good fit. As a therapist, I expect this. If you feel like you’d prefer a different style etc.- you will not hurt my feelings by saying so. This is all about YOU. It can take a few tries to meet a therapist that you feel connected to. Don’t be discouraged, getting the right support will bring you closer to your goals and is worth the effort.
The following are typical questions you can expect during that first phone call---
Why are you seeking counseling at this time? Examples…I just don’t feel like myself. I’m anxious at work. I can’t seem to shut my brain off. I had a loved one die. I’m sad all the time…
Have you ever been in counseling before? If yes, what did you find helpful or not helpful? When you answer this, it is such valuable information for me. If you tell me that your previous therapist gave you a suitcase of books to read and you don’t actually like to read, I’ll make a mental note of that. If you love, love, love to read and have found in helpful in the past, that’s good for me to know too J
What will be your method of payment be (more on this later)?
What is your availability for appointments? If you tell me you work days and need an evening appointment (high real estate) I may or may not have an opening. I encourage people to explore creative options. Some employers will permit flexing schedules for on-going medical appointments. Perhaps a lunch appointment would be feasible. I get that it’s tricky. A number of my clients have to arrange for babysitters to make their appointments. If feeling better is important to you, be creative. You are worth it!
I will ask you if you have any questions for me. Remember, you can decide if I’m the right fit for you. What is important to you in a therapist? Maybe you don’t know the answer to that question yet, which is perfectly normal. You can figure it out along the way. I check in with clients periodically to see how they think things are going. I welcome your feedback. Remember…this is all about YOU. Seeing you practice self-advocacy delights me! Tell me no, tell me such and such doesn’t resonate with you. It’s super helpful for me to know that, and helps us tailor our sessions towards what works best for you.
If we both choose to move forward with scheduling, I will ask you to call the behavioral health phone number on the back of your insurance card (if you are paying with insurance) to clarify as to what your benefits are.
Questions to ask insurance are-
Am I in a deductible period? If so, what is it? If they say yes, that means you will be expected to pay for your session at the time of service, and I will provide you with a super-bill to be applied towards your deductible.
Do I have a co-pay?
Do I have any limits on the length of my session (45 minutes or 55 minutes) or the number of sessions?
Is a prior-authorization required?
I will ask you for your email address. I email the intake packet to clients and ask that it be filled out and brought to your first session (a map with parking options is included). Bring your insurance card along too. I will ask to make a copy of it at the end of your first session.
Lastly, I will ask if you have any questions about what we discussed during our phone call. I want you to feel ready for your first appointment!
And that’s all, folks (did you think of Bugs Bunny too?).
I look forward to receiving your call!