These days, nobody really likes to pick up the phone and talk unless you’re at least 70 years old and it’s your main way of connecting with someone.
And for good reason – it’s harder to multi-task when we’re on the phone (despite all the new research telling us that multi-tasking actually slows us down), we don’t know how time consuming the call will be, plus it’s more direct and personal. Yet, for some tasks in life, the phone is just the best option. One of these tasks is making an appointment with a therapist. Eek!
It Just Takes One Call to Get Started
I mean, you’re already feeling like you should have called a while ago, it’s not like these issues are brand new. Despite that there’s the nervousness about what I will be like, the shame for feeling like you haven’t been able to handle the problem to begin with, and even the worry of “will she be able to handle my problems or will I be too much for her?”
Maybe you’ve had a therapist in the past that didn’t have the skills that you needed them too and it left you feeling more alone. Or maybe they never even called you back. If either of those things happen to be the case, I am deeply sorry. You deserve better than that.
What’s a Consult Anyway?
A consult with me is a short conversation over the phone to determine if we’re a good fit for each other. Consultations are similar to an informal interview. It’s a chance for us to get to know each other. It’s also a chance for me to get a sense of what’s going on for you that’s prompting the call and to and make sure I feel I can competently help you. I have an ethical duty to refer you to other therapists that I think would be a better fit for you if my skillset does not match your concerns well.
I am always impressed when someone calls to schedule an appointment. Not because I don’t believe in the work I do, but because it takes a good dose of bravery and some pain with how life has felt lately.
I often tell my clients that it takes a lot of courage to ask for help so they’ve already done one of the hardest parts.
You shouldn’t expect any real therapy to take place in the consultation. That starts in the first full session in my office. One of the most important parts of a consultation is that it gives you a chance to ask me some questions.
A big part of therapy is about being completely honest and open (hopefully). That means you can ask me whatever you want about my life. It may feel weird asking questions about how I work or who I am. We aren’t used to asking other healthcare professionals personal questions. But counseling is different than other types of healthcare. Counseling gets really personal. And because of that, clients want to feel like the relationship is more balanced and that the therapist shares things about themselves as well.
I am always prepared to field any and all questions from my clients. You should feel empowered to ask me any questions you have, especially if getting the answers will help you to feel more comfortable. Ask yourself what feels important to you; what do you need or want to know.
Common Questions I Receive
“Have you helped many people like me before?” (I probably have!)
“Have you always lived in Charlotte, NC?” (Nope, I’ve lived all over – West Africa, California, Chicago, Oregon, Massachusetts…)
“Have you experienced my issue in your personal life?” (Maybe not the same problem, but I have probably experienced similar feelings.)
“Who talks more – me or you?” (That depends on who you are. My job is to meet you where you’re at with what you need.)
During that brief phone conversation I tell you a little about what I think you could expect from our session together. I will want to hear more about your problem and how it’s affecting you. In our first session, I will have some ideas and suggestions of some things for you to consider, so when you leave, we will have the beginning of a plan to help you cope better.
At the end of that conversation, I want you to feel understood, to feel like working through your problem is a little more doable, to normalize what you feel since we often tend to shroud ourselves with shame, and mostly to feel a sense of relief.
After all, people who call me are doing the best they can with who they are and deserve to feel relief.