Seeing a Psychologist for the First Time - What to Expect

Mental Health

Registered psychologist speaks with a woman who is seeing a psychologist for the first time.

Seeing a psychologist for the first time is nothing to worry about. However, it’s understandable to have questions about what will happen during the initial appointment and what you might need to do to prepare. Your psychologist will do their best to put you at ease so that you feel comfortable to share whatever is on your mind.

You’ve Prioritised Your Mental Health

Many patients have completed the hardest part before they even arrive at their first psychologist’s appointment. They have recognised that their mental health isn’t as good as it could be and taken action. They may have spoken to their GP, asked for a referral and made their first appointment to see a psychologist, or have approached their employers EAP providers to arrange an appointment this way.

When it’s time for the appointment, leave home a little early so the traffic or parking doesn’t make you feel stressed about being late. You want to feel calm and clear-headed before your meeting.

Many psychologists may now offer Telehealth appointments, so you can reach out for help in the comfort of your own home.

Questions Your Psychologist May Ask You

During the first appointment, your psychologist will ask some questions to get to know you. The psychologist will use the information to establish a treatment plan for future sessions.

Your Background

You may either complete a written questionnaire with information about your background or you may complete it verbally with the psychologist. Details about your living arrangements, occupation, family members and leisure activities can give a brief overview of who you are.

Your Main Concerns

The first session will help your psychologist to understand the difficulties you’re encountering and any relevant background information. They may ask what you’re hoping to achieve by the end of your sessions together.

Family History

Whilst having a family member with a mental illness doesn’t mean you or anyone else in your family will become mentally unwell, there is a chance that it can be passed on from one generation to the next through our genes. If you know of any family members who have suffered from poor mental health, you can let your psychologist know.

Information Gathering

There is no right or wrong answer. Just respond with what you think. Also, don’t be too concerned about whether your answers are detailed enough. Your psychologist can always ask another question if they need more information. It’s most likely that your psychologist has helped someone else with very similar concerns as you. Whatever you say is unlikely to shock or surprise an experienced psychologist. They will use the information you provide to help formulate a therapy plan. At the end of your roughly 50 minute session, your psychologist will briefly outline what you can expect from future sessions.

What to Bring to a First Appointment with a Psychologist

If you’ve already provided a copy of your doctor’s referral to the psychologist, bring it with you to the appointment.

If you have some questions for the psychologist and you aren’t sure you will remember everything you want to ask, feel free to write them down to remind you. Bring your pen with you if you want to make a note of the answers if that works best for you. Don’t be afraid to ask whatever questions you want or ask for an answer to be repeated.

Don’t worry if you don't have any questions, but think of some after the first session. You can always ask your psychologist at the second or subsequent appointments.

After Your Psychologist Appointment

People experience different emotions after their psychologist appointment. Many people say they feel emotionally drained and tired at the end of the session, so you may want to have a rest afterwards rather than rushing straight into another commitment. Other people report feeling relieved or excited that they’re at the beginning of a life-changing process.

If you think of questions you want to ask or information you want to provide to your psychologist at the next session, make a note of them so you don’t forget. Hopefully, once you have one session under your belt, you’ll have a better understanding of how it works and what to expect. If there is anything about the sessions that you’re not comfortable with or any changes you want to make, speak to your psychologist. You won’t offend them - they want you to feel comfortable during your time together.

If you think you would benefit from seeing a psychologist, talk to your GP about a referral or contact PeopleSense by Altius Group on 1800 258 487 or get in contact online.

Category: Mental Health