What Should I Expect In the First Session?
For the most part the initial session allows you and your therapist to meet and get to know each other. You share with your therapist the reasons for seeking therapy, your goals, and other information about yourself that will help your therapist understand you, your life situation, and your needs. Your therapist may ask you specific questions and is open to answering any questions you have. This process may include completing forms provided by your therapist.
Each BPC therapist also has written information for you that explains basic policies and procedures. It includes an explanation of confidentiality and some information about its limits as well as the therapist’s policy regarding fees, cancellations, and payments. We ask you to sign a form to verify that you have received it.
At the end of the first session, you and your therapist will share general impressions and assess whether working together would be helpful to you or not. You can decide if you feel comfortable enough with this person to do the inner work that is needed (see “How to Choose a Therapist”). If you don’t, your therapist can refer you to someone else. If you want to work with this therapist, your goals and your therapist’s recommendations will be integrated to make a plan for helping you make the changes you are seeking.
What Results Can I Expect? How Long Will It Take?
The answers to these questions depend, in large measure, on the problems that you choose to address in your therapy. Some problems respond very well to a short course of therapy, while others require a longer commitment. In general, a more narrowly defined issue, in which the desired outcome can be concretely named (e.g. “I want help in confronting my boss about a raise. I would like to be able to handle the interaction professionally, but in the past I have always ended up getting angry or teary”), may be resolved in a few sessions.
Conversely, those problems that are more generalized (e.g. “I’m unhappy but I can’t figure out why, and I don’t know what would make me feel better.”), would probably require a longer discernment process to get to the real issues that are causing the distress. Additionally, these kinds of issues take more time to effect the changes that would be necessary to resolve the problem. The scope of the therapeutic endeavor can be negotiated between you and your therapist so that you know what you are committing to, and what the criterion would be for a successful outcome.