First session jitters
What are some typical questions a psychologist will ask me during my first session?
In the initial session, a psychologist will want to understand what is happening in your life right now leading you to seek help. I call this the “zoom in” where I want to get to know my client’s current pain points and reasons for us working together. This will likely be mostly open-ended where you will be invited to explain what has been going on recently. Feel free to describe this in as much or little detail as you feel comfortable during the first session.
Then there is the “zoom out” part. You have been living your life all along and now you’re sitting in front of a professional to help you make some changes or better understand yourself and your experiences. We need to zoom out to understand more about you and your life. Expect to answer questions about family history, school and work background, medical history, your current relationships, and any history of mental health treatment.
During the first session most psychologists will ask at least a few questions about your family growing up to gain perspective about your life experiences. Contrary to many Hollywood portrayals this is not to harp on your parents or to dig up old hurts. Understanding this background helps your therapist to get to know you and have a context for your current experiences. However, if you do have a history of trauma or victimization this will be important for your therapist to know even if it is not your primary concern at the time. (Same way your primary care doctor needs to know about any prior injuries or surgeries).
The initial session is all about you and the psychologist learning about each other. The psychologist is learning about you, your history and current situation, and your goals for working together. However you will not be learning personal information about the psychologist like when you're getting to know a new friend. Instead you should be gathering other important information from the experience. Does the psychologist seem like the right person to help you? Some clients say they can tell right away if it’s a good fit, while others say it can take 2-3 visits.
Click here for more information about what to expect in an initial consultation with Dr. Stodard.