During the initial appointment, we will discuss your families' current concerns and develop an understanding of your goals. A full history of your child will be gathered including medical, developmental, family and social history as these may be relevant. We can then discuss expectations for counseling/evaluation and how to explain this experience to your child. Typically, the initial appointment lasts approximately 60 minutes, while subsequent therapy sessions are 45-50 minutes.
The main goal of the first appointment is to gather information and determine a plan. Counseling is typically not a "quick fix" and does require time to build a rapport and work together on the problem area. The parent and counselor do most of the talking during the initial appointment with a shorter time spent with the child. This helps them become more at ease and feel safe for next time and allows us a chance to discuss the concerns and determine all the factors involved.
Children may be anxious during the initial appointment and may not "be themselves". Initially, the goal is to have them feel comfortable in a child-friendly environment. Toys & activities are readily provided during the parent interview and help your child feel more at ease.
Discuss the visit with your child in very general terms. Suggestions include telling your child that the family is going to go see a counselor/teacher/helper to talk about how to make things better at home/school. Provide reassurance they will not receive any medical treatments or shots (ouch!). Try to reassure them they are not "in trouble" but that the family needs some guidance in certain areas. If children perceive counseling as a "punishment" for their behavior or that something is "wrong" with them, they can become more defensive/resistant or fearful, which prevents them from participating.
Try to plan ahead so your child is not hungry, overly tired or ill. This can make the visit a negative experience for them and you!
Arrive on time so that this can be a calm experience for you & your child and we can have the full advantage of the time!