First Therapy Session - Get all your answers here!
We all know what a visit to a doctor looks like. We can anticipate what the clinic looks like, what things we will see in the clinic, what questions the doctor will ask, what responses are expected from us, what the fee range looks like. All of it. But when it comes to therapy, or any mental health service, most of us are blank. Not only are we entirely blank about what the process looks and feels like, we are also filled with some amount of nervousness, curiosity, shyness, and many other emotions, like a mix-bag of gems.
This article will step by step explain the who’s, what’s, and how’s of therapy.
I think the very first question that arises is: Who needs therapy?
Every time I hear this question, I feel like the process of therapy has been equated to admission in engineering college, if you meet the cut-off criteria, you are eligible for it. All of which is untrue. While psychotherapy focuses on dealing emotional, cognitive, and behavioral problems, anyone can benefit from it. One does need to be suffering from a diagnosed mental health illness to seek therapy. Therapy also benefits in gaining insight in yourself, dealing better with life stressors, develop healthy coping mechanisms, understand others better, and many more.
So, who do I go to for therapy?
I need not reiterate the situation on social media right now, especially with imposters and quacks, posing as counselors and therapists. It is always of utmost importance to check-out the educational qualifications of the professional you are approaching. Below mentioned are some mental health care professions in India with their qualification criteria’s:
· Psychiatrist- Licensed medical doctors who diagnose psychological disorders and provide with a medicinal treatment. Degree: MD or DPM in Psychiatric Medicine.
· Clinical Psychologist- Specialized in diagnosis and assessment of psychological disorders. Degree: MPhil in Clinical Psychology from RCI registered institution.
· Psychologist- An individual who can either work as a practitioner or researcher in the field of Psychology. They treat psychological issues with mild to moderate severity, adjustment issues and other emotional issues. Degree: Minimum qualification: M.A./ MSc in (Clinical) Psychology.
· Counseling Psychologists- Specialize in adjustment problems, career problems, and other day-to-day problems. Degree: Minimum qualification of M.A./MSc in Counselling Psychology
· Psychotherapist- Specializes in intensive long-term therapy. Degree: M.A./ MSc in Psychology + Diploma/ Certificate course in specific Psychotherapy.
Okay great, now that this is sorted, tell me what will the first session look like?
Before I answer that, I want all the readers to know and always remember this: Therapy is a safe, non-judgmental space, there are no right or wrong responses here.
To begin with a session, the first thing you will have to do is a book an appointment with a qualified mental health professional (MHP). Following which, your MHP might ask you to fill a consent form stating that you consent to the process of therapy. This consent form might also have some basic questions that you will have to answer such as you name, age, gender and areas of concern. This is just to get a basic idea of the client. The fee range per session is mentioned in the consent form, and it varies in the range of 350/- to 1500/- (usually) fee depending upon the qualifications and the years of experience of the professional.
In your very first session, you are bound to feel a mix-bag of emotions, which is natural, which your therapist also anticipates. You do not have to worry about ‘sustaining a conversation’ or ‘what do I talk about for one-hour’. The first session is usually a getting to know and understand you better, rather than directly dwelling into your issues, so you can expect a lot of open-ended questions such as tell me a little bit about yourself, or tell me about your concerns, so on and so forth. Upon getting to know about you, your therapist me enquire further into things that you have mentioned. A good therapeutic relationship between the client and the professional is a key to therapeutic changes in the client, which will be main area of focus in the initial sessions. At all points, feel free to share what is on your mind, whether it is about the on-going session or anything else. Open and honest conversation will make the process smoother.
For this particular article, I did not refer to any material, because I wrote it down from my personal experience in therapy, as well as those of many others I know. To take that first step and reach out can feel very scary, but remember a good therapist will walk the journey with you. All you have to do is reach out.
By Ms. Rinkle Jain
Ms. Rinkle Jain is an aspiring psychologist-in-training (M.A. Clinical Psychology). She has an unmatched enthusiasm for writing, and research. She is passionate about Mental Health Advocacy and believes in addressing the role of social and political systems when working with mental health care. She is also a strong advocate of research, ethics, and proactive learning in her approach to Psychology, and hopes to create a safe, inclusive, and empathetic space for her future clientele.