Mental illnesses can occur in people of any age, socioeconomic class, and disposition. Psychotherapy can be just as effective, if not more effective, than medication when it comes to treating mental illnesses. These tips can help you make the most of your first phone call with a therapist when scheduling a psychotherapy session:
1. Use your first phone call to interview your therapist.
During your first phone call with a therapist, you will have the opportunity to ask them any questions you have for them. You can think of this conversation as a short interview. Many therapists list pertinent information about themselves, their training, and their practices on their websites, but there may be other things that you wish to know. For instance, if you are a member of a specific community or marginalized group, you may want to know if your therapist has experience treating others like you. Don't be afraid to ask anything that's on your mind.
2. Describe your problem but not in too much detail.
When you call a therapist, they will ask you why you've decided to pursue psychotherapy. While you should be as clear as possible about the problems you're experiencing, you should remember that preliminary phone calls are not treatment sessions. Your therapist will work with you more intensively during subsequent meetings if you decide to pursue treatment with them. Keep your description of your thoughts, feelings, and problems brief but specific during your first contact.
3. Discuss mutual expectations.
The therapeutic relationship is a professional one, but it is a relationship all the same. As a relationship, it comes with certain expectations and boundaries. Most people feel more comfortable when boundaries are clearly outlined, so you should make an effort to discuss them during your first conversation with a therapist. You can discuss things such as your therapist's fee, cancellation policies, and anything else that might be a dealbreaker for either you or your therapist.
4. Choose a treatment goal.
Many forms of therapy are goal-oriented, which means that patients and therapists work together to meet a certain goal. This goal may be a reduction of troublesome symptoms, the ability to cope with a difficult life event, or something else. Choosing a specific treatment goal upfront will help you and your therapist orient your psychotherapy sessions appropriately. Goals can also be used to measure your progress to ensure that therapy continues to benefit you.