One of the the most difficult parts of counseling is finding the right counselor to begin with. In this post, I offered tips on when and how to find the right counselor. Once you have your first appointment scheduled, there are several steps you can take to prepare for your appointment, and hopefully ease your anticipation anxiety.
1) Familiarize yourself with the route to the office. The last thing you want is to get lost on your way to your appointment! No matter how far the counselor’s office is from your starting point, you’ll want to visualize how you’ll get there, what you’ll need to bring with you, and how much time to give yourself. For example, my office is located in Chicago’s Loop (downtown Chicago). Most of my clients work in office buildings within a handful of city blocks from my office. Imagine I have 3 separate clients working in the same office building. Depending on their individual appointment times, it may make sense for Client A to walk to my office, Client B to take a cab, and Client C to take public transportation.
2) Thoroughly review the paperwork, and complete it in advance. Most often, your counselor will send you the initial paperwork via email or secure online portal prior to your session. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to thoroughly review and complete the paperwork. Make sure you understand what to expect, especially concerning your financial responsibility, the practice policies, and the services the practice can provide. If you’re supposed to fill the paperwork out in the office before your session, make sure you give yourself an extra 15-20 minutes to do so.
3) Before your appointment, write down and ask questions. Some examples are…
- Are you in network with my specific insurance plan?
- What are your full rates?
- Do you assist with out of network reimbursement?
- What is your late cancellation policy?
- How long are appointments?
- If I have a question regarding scheduling or billing, who do I contact?
- What is your policy regarding clinical contact between appointments?
- Is your office handicap accessible?
If you feel a bit of anticipation anxiety as you await your first counseling appointment, you are not alone! Engaging in a new counseling experience, especially if you’ve never been in counseling before, can feel intimidating. If you feel your anxiety spiking, try to channel that energy into preparing for your session. Remember, the anticipation is often the hardest part!