Education, study and knowledge

What to expect on a first visit to the psychotherapist?

Despite the increasing frequency of overcoming resistance or reluctance to attend psychological therapy, There are still some regular fears about what it may mean to consult a psychologist for a problem emotional.

One of the main fears that the person experiences may be related to the ignorance of what the first therapy is like. For this reason, the aspects that are most frequently addressed in the first meeting with a psychology professional enrolled within the cognitive-behavioral current are exposed below.

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The initial interview

As indicated by Betisa Bárez (2018), there are three main objectives that the psychologist considers to address with the potential patient in a first visit:

In the first place, it is intended to establish a positive climate of comfort and trust between both parties, so that establish the bases of a first therapeutic bond that allows subsequent joint work during the process of intervention.

In addition, in this first exchange the professional

the process of collecting data on the reason for consultation begins exposed by the patient, in order to make a conceptual approach on the indicated demand.

This purpose will allow the psychologist to develop a more detailed idea of ​​the problem consulted by the patient and thus understand it more deeply. Ultimately it will also make it possible to determine whether such professional becomes the right person to attend to said consultation or if, on the contrary, it should be considered to refer the case to another more specialized professional or more appropriate to the needs of the patient.

Finally, in this first meeting, the psychologist reports on the conditions and rules that will frame the therapeutic sessions to be carried out from that moment on. This set of information is called "framing" and consists of a series of procedural norms or principles that have the function of delimiting by both parties how the appointments will be made, what can be expected from them and what structure and / or joint working method will be followed during the treatment process psychological.

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What specific content is addressed in the initial interview?

Regarding the information on which the professional asks the patient for the collection of initial data, essentially the following areas are found:

1. Patient demographics

These include the age, place and date of birth, as well as data on their professional occupation. and a brief description of the people with whom he lives and who make up the so-called family nuclear.

2. The query exposition

Refers to the moments when the patient exposes the different areas causing his personal discomfort. Initial details on its inception and evolution to date are included.

At this point, the degree of interference that the problem (s) entail in their daily life performance is also discussed.

Finally, in this area it is also necessary to inquire about the expectations presented by the patient regarding the therapeutic process and if they have undergone any other psychological follow-up with anteriority.

3. Explanation

Depending on the requested consultation, the psychologist can perform a brief explanation on how you will proceed in the following visits and what structure of procedures you will follow next. This aspect should not be confused with the fact that the professional makes a return or diagnostic hypothesis of the case in the first session.

Although the patient usually tends to wait for the therapist to determine already in the first I find a clear professional assessment, it seems essential that he adopt a more prudent.

In this sense, Betisa Bárez (2018) indicates that, in a usual way, the psychologist needs an average of about four initial interview sessions so that he can have sufficient information about the consultation presented by the patient, and all the circumstances that surround it, in order to be able to perform a return session well well-founded.

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4. The framing

As indicated above, it becomes the normative framework in which the entire psychological process established between the therapist and the patient is governed (Betisa Bárez, 2018). Specific, This content area is made up of the agreement on the following elements:

  • The schedules, that is, the duration and frequency of the sessions.
  • The planning of appointments and if a cancellation policy is to be applied.
  • The delimitation of contact outside the visits, if it will be allowed and on what terms.
  • The space in which the psychological intervention will take place.
  • The structure and themes to be addressed in the therapy sessions.
  • The questions relating to the confidentiality of the data and in which cases this deontological principle is going to be broken. At this point it is necessary to inform about the possibility of contacting other entities or organizations that may be attending the patient, for example the staff of the school the patient attends, other primary health professionals, psychiatrists, etc.
  • The elements and components from which each session will be formed, for example: exposure of a technique, review of the tasks indicated to be carried out between sessions, if a psychological evaluation process is to be carried out prior to the intervention, etc.

In conclusion

What is exposed in this article it can be useful to minimize the resistance that a patient may present when deciding to carry out a psychological consultation, since knowing what aspects are covered in the first meeting between both parties can facilitate the person to have more realistic and concrete expectations, thus reducing the fear of ignorance that this action can wake you up.

Bibliographic references:

  • Betisa Pérez Palomo, N. (2018). Basic skills of the health psychologist. CEF Editions: Madrid.
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