How to prepare for your first visit?
Feeling anxious about seeing a Psychologist/therapist or a psychiatrist is a common feeling, but don’t let those fears interfere with you getting the help and treatment that you deserve and need. Having a general understanding of what kinds of questions will be asked and topics that will be discussed can definitely alleviate some of your concerns and make you feel more comfortable at your first appointment.
And remember, sometimes the first help you take may not necessarily turn out to be the best fit for you. After all, this is your care and treatment — you deserve someone who you feel comfortable with, who’s willing to answer your questions, and who will collaborate with you to achieve your treatment goals.
What to bring to your first appointment?
You’ll be asked about your history — medical , personal and family, developmental depending on the specialist or the clinician involved — so be prepared by bringing the following:
• a complete list of medications, in addition to psychiatric medications
• Details of the therapy you may have attended
• a list of any and all psychiatric medications you might have tried in the past, including how long you took them for
• your medical concerns and any diagnoses
• family history of mental health issues, if there are any
Also, if you’ve seen a psychologist and or a psychiatrist in the past, it’s very helpful to bring a copy of those records, or have your records sent from the previous office to the new doctor/therapist you are going to see.
During your appointment the Specialists will get to know you. He/She will ask you many questions regarding your moods, thoughts, feelings and behaviour and what issues are concerning you the most. He/she may also request laboratory and imaging studies if required, to help ensure a thorough and comprehensive evaluation. If medication is recommended, you will receive a full explanation of the indications, the risks and benefits associated with it and a breakdown of alternative options that are available. This will allow you to make an informed decision.
During your appointment with a Psychologist/ therapist, you will be able to understand the process involved in the therapy including the assessment and psychological treatments available and recommended best option in your case.
On your follow up appointments, the Specialist will ask you about any interval changes in your symptoms and whether they have improved, worsened or remain unchanged. He/she will ask you about the side effects you are experiencing if a medication was started and address them. Ongoing assessments of your symptoms and wellbeing will give an indication if the devised plan is working well for you. Any change in the treatment plan will be done in a collaborative manner.
The therapist should be able to summarise the discussion of the session towards the end of the session and will be able to discuss the agenda for each session at the start.