Coming to Counseling the First Time - Part 1

You’ve made your first appointment and you are preparing for your first individual counseling session. Or maybe you’ve thought about calling to make your first appointment, but you are not completely convinced of what you can expect. No matter whichever situation you find yourself in, your first individual counseling session can be nerve-racking.  Here are some good things to know about counseling and your first appointment.  Also we use the term counselor and therapist interchangeably!

It’s ok to reach out.  We should start here.  My definition of a counselor is someone who is with you, non-judgmentally, while you through a tough or new time of your life.  We all have behaviors and thoughts that we wish we could change, moments of “darkness”, and even pockets of something that we cannot quite put our finger on and still know deep down that something is different and uncomfortable inside of us.  Mental health used to be extremely stigmatized— many thought that people who went to see a counselor were those who were not “strong enough” or that had major concerns and that would need to be hospitalized.  Today, we are moving past that false belief.  We are seeing ourselves more holistically.  We understand that working with a licensed professional can help people on their path to change through anxiety, depression, loss, PTSD, trauma, marriage, career, life-stage changes, etc. 

Before you call… It may be helpful to check your calendar and your health insurance if you plan on using it before you call.  You can check your own mental health benefits by calling your insurance company.  For many, their mental health benefits are included with their overall health plan.  When you call customer service on the back of your your insurance card, you will need to specify that you are calling to check your “outpatient mental health benefit coverage.”  They will be able to tell you what your copay/co-insurance is for your policy.  It is typically a very quick and easy call.  

When you call the office…You may not know what you should say. All you need to say is that you would like more information or that you would like to schedule an appointment.  When you call, you will be asked if you would like to use insurance.  The reason this question is asked is so that a counselor in your network can be paired with you if this is a priority for you.  It may be helpful to give a brief description (i.e., “anxiety” “depression” “loss” “marriage” “child”) of your purpose for coming, so that again the right counselor can be paired to meet your particular reason for coming.  You do not need to tell your story to the person who schedules your appointment.  You may be asked if you have any preferences for your therapist.  It would be a good idea to think about what you are looking for in a therapist.  If you are unsure, we post profiles of therapists at our office on our website.

Your first visit. The first thing to know about your first visit is what to bring. You will need to bring new client paperwork with you to your first visit, you can fill out your paperwork prior to the first appointment—so bring that with you.  The intake paperwork for new clients can be printed off of our website.  If you are going to be using insurance, you’ll want to bring that card with you as well.  If you have a child under the age of 18, a legal parent/guardian will need to plan on coming and staying at the office throughout the session.  We have also chosen to not have a receptionist in our office to maintain as much privacy for our clients as possible.  This is confusing for new clients on their first visit.  Our goal in this is to make you comfortable.  You can make yourself at home in the waiting area and your therapist will greet you in the waiting room when they are ready for your appointment.

If you have any questions or are ready to schedule an appointment, please visit our website or give our office a call and we would be happy to help you on your path to change.  

Paducah-  www.compasspaducah.com 270-777-4490

Owensboro- www.compassowensboro.com 270-215-4000

About the Author

Jenny Linville lives in Paducah with her two men—husband and English Bulldog Manly.  Jenny is a beginning counselor, soon to be LPCA, who is seminary trained, and loves to help people through many different life changes, challenges, and hard spots.  She and her husband enjoy cooking and going for walks with Manly.