Today and more and more often, a considerable proportion of the population has attended or will never use the services of a psychologist. While in the past it was frowned upon and many people were embarrassed or reported about it, this stigma has been drastically reduced over the years, prompting more and more people to resort to this type of service in the event of a need.
However, this is still a type of service which is considered a strange thing and most people are somewhat reluctant, not knowing exactly how it works or what has been done. One of the moments that generates the most uncertainty is the first contact with the professional, often not knowing exactly what is going to be done or what to expect. What do you do during a first session with a psychologist? This is the topic we’ll be talking about throughout this article.
What is done during the first psychotherapy session
The first thing to keep in mind is that the first session is, with the possible exception of a first phone or internet contact, the first contact between therapist and patient.
This means that at the present time, we still don’t know anything about each other, apart from having read the website of the center or the opinions concerning the professional, and especially in the case of the therapist, who does not. will have no knowledge of your patient.
In general, it should be kept in mind that the general objectives of the first session will be to make contact, know the case in question and generate a good therapeutic relationship.
This last aspect is essential, because in general, the deep aspects of the psyche will be dealt with. Without an adequate level of trust between the professional and the patient, the user will not be allowed to express their fears, doubts, emotions and thoughts, which will lead to an unproductive relationship and hamper the success of the therapy.
Of course, the positive relationship or the right therapeutic relationship will be built not only during this session (in which it is common to be a little shy) but during different sessions.
First contact with the patient
The first was to receive the patient, make him feel and make the relevant presentations. It is common to try to break the ice with the patient to generate a positive and confident atmosphere, to gradually explain what is going to be done throughout the session.
It is also common for them to establish themselves at some point in the interview (although many professionals do not say so directly, taking it for granted or having reported in previous forms or means of contact), that this either at the start, during or during the interview. end, that all information provided will be absolutely confidential. The only exceptions are that there is an order or request from a judge or that there may be serious harm to the life or integrity of the subject himself or of third parties.
After the presentation, an interview will be conducted in order to obtain information about the case itself, usually through the process called an anamnesis. This is the method by which the most relevant information of the specific case is collected, Including the problem in question which made him leave, the lifestyle and social habits and the history and background data of the subject.
You’ll usually start by asking about the topic’s problem or request, focusing on the current situation, as well as what specifically prompted him to go here and now. You will also be asked about aspects such as when the problem started, what it is associated with and the feelings it generates, what specific difficulties it generates in the patient’s life.
this it still occurs if the professional had a report to this effect (For example if it is derived from a doctor or by court order), so that the professional can see what request the subject has and if there is a problem as he is living and speaking, make himself a idea of his approach. It is proposed that the patient expresses his request / problem at the present time,
Done this or just before that (the specific order depends on how each professional approaches the order and characteristics of the patient), in order to find out more about the patient and get more information about the problem and on the circumstances which surround it, a series of general data on the patient and his life are generally requested which can be interesting and related to the problematic.
In this sense, it will be useful know the presence of possible clean and familiar antecedents the same problem or a problem that could have had a concrete effect on the subject. Basic data on the environment are also often requested: whether you have children or siblings, marital status, relationship with parents and their profession or, in general, the family structure with which they live. Also on social life, whether or not there is a partner and the state of the relationship or professional life.
It is not a question of asking for nothing more and knowing all the aspects of your life, but it will be questions to know the general situation. The collection of information must respect ethical limits: the professional will concentrate on the relevant aspects to address and address the reason for the consultation, and if he deems it necessary, to deepen certain questions.
Obviously we are in the first session, being a dialogue that seeks information however nor be an interrogation: In fact, material important to the case will often end up being discovered throughout the sessions that was either hidden or considered irrelevant at this early stage. The information provided is not immutable and should not be too exhaustive, as it can be exhausting and even unpleasant for the user.
The professional will listen to what the patient has to say, although they may ask for clarification on key aspects and will make sure to understand and value what is explained to them. The therapist’s attitude will be active listening, Be attentive to what the patient wants to say (and also what he does not say, being something that also provides a lot of information), empathetic and cordial. He also strove to be genuine and professional, and tried at all times to show the patient that they will not be judged regardless of what they explain, generating a climate of trust and acceptance.
Assessing expectations and setting goals
Once the situation has been assessed, the professional will discuss with the patient the patient’s expectations and goals regarding the reason for their consultation and the fact of seeking professional help.
It is important to assess this aspect because the initial objectives or even what is expected of the professional may be unrealistic or even not assess the real overcoming of the problem but of a specific difficulty that it generates. On the basis of all the information acquired, general objectives will be negotiated who is sought with the professional relationship and the roles of each will be established.
Assessment with quantitative instruments
It may be necessary to use some kind of assessment tool in a psychology service or consultation to assess the presence of a disorder or to assess a phenomenon, symptom or difficulty quantitatively. However, even if the case arises, the resulting information should be compared and assessed on the basis of the interview, and not as absolute results.
An example of this would be patients who go to a neuropsychiatry ward, it is common for their abilities to be assessed during the same session. Also in a psychology consultation may consider that it is necessary to assess the level of anxiety or assess the extent to which a personality trait is presentWhile a first session is not as common as you might think. In addition, not all professionals will use them in clinical practice or in all cases, depending on each specific situation.
Recap and orientation for subsequent sessions
Before the end of the session, there is usually a summary of everything that happened there, in order to help establish in the patient a mental diagram of what was done and discussed and to assess whether the professional understood all the information.
In addition to that, it is possible to take a small advance on what is planned for the next session. Also and depending on the problem and the professional general psychoeducational guidelines can be established, In the absence of additional studies on the subject.