• Nicole Lobo

I've never been to therapy before...what should I expect when I reach out?



With the current pandemic causing some anxiety, unease, and dysfunction in our lives during this time; many individuals have been reaching out for therapeutic support for the first time in their lives. If you are new to therapy and you clicked on this post, hi and welcome! I'm so glad you're here and doing some research about whether therapy may be the right option for you during this time.


I often get calls, emails, and messages from perspective clients who are new to the world of therapy and are often hesitant about the journey due to the lack of knowledge around how to even begin! This is a very reasonable and understandable query that I hope to shed some light on today.


In my practice, I strongly believe in the well-informed client. That means that I make it a goal to ensure all clients feel comfortable, safe, and welcomed to ask any questions and feel certain about their therapy decisions. After all, when it's your first time accessing therapeutic supports, it can feel a little bit daunting and uncertain given all your options! Don't fret, this therapist is here to make this process a little easier for you. When you're searching to begin therapy for the first time, please consider the following as some things to consider before you choose the therapist you are committing to work with:


1. Do they offer a free consultation?

In my practice, I offer all clients a free consultation before they schedule a first appointment. This holds 2 purposes: (a) to help the client get a feel for whether I might be the best fit for their needs before committing to a paid session, (b) to help me decide whether this client would be best suited for my scope of practice and training. If a therapist offers you a free consultation, be sure to write down a couple of key questions you may be interested to know to help you decide whether you will end up booking an appointment with them. Please click here for a list of FAQs some clients have asked me during their consultations!


2. Ask questions about what personal goals/objectives you may have going into therapy and what you want to work on.

Asking questions is something many first time therapy-goer's feel shy about due to fear of judgement or "asking a silly question." Well let me tell you, there are no silly questions in therapy and nothing is left off the table! I often tell new clients that I am an open-book and more than happy to share my personal experiences with anxiety, stress, and Millennial problems (because I'm a human too!) I pride myself on being the nonjudgmental figure in your life who will be honest with you and guide your thinking processes to get you from surviving to thriving through your anxiety and stress!


3. Decide whether you prefer in-person versus virtual therapy options.

Due to the current state of our world, therapists around the globe have been forced into virtual practices to keep social distance while continuing to offer the much needed mental health support. I am no stranger to virtual therapy and have been offering it to my clients since before COVID was around. Nonetheless, it's of great importance for you to decide whether you would prefer an in-person relationship with your therapist or one that is virtual. Some therapists (including myself) are beginning to slowly re-open their doors, allowing for a mix of in-person care with your virtual communication. Check in with yourself about what type of therapy delivery you feel most comfortable with and seek therapists who currently offer that service.


4. Decide on your therapy budget and whether you have insurance coverage for the professional you choose to work with.

Therapy is a privilege, and often those who do not have private insurance coverage are paying out-of-pocket for their time on the therapy couch. If this is the case for you, be sure to decide how much you could comfortably spend per month on therapy and what hourly rate is within this financial comfort zone. Some therapists offer sliding scale rates if you make a certain income level and do not have access to insurance coverage, so please make sure to ask about financial accommodations if it's available. In my practice, I often take on a certain number of clients at a reduced rate so they can access quality mental health care that is within their budget. I have also offered low-income services that are below $100 for those who prefer to access therapy more often. Click here to check out my last post all about insurance!


If you do have private insurance, then I advise that you have a read through your policy and understand the professional designations that are covered under your plan. It gets confusing, but keep in mind that a Registered Psychotherapist (such as myself) may not be the same as a Psychologist or Social Worker (popular professionals on most insurance lists). Please do your research and ensure your coverage reaches the professional you choose. Keep in mind, most therapists do not offer direct billing, so it is your responsibility as the client to check your insurance coverage before scheduling your first session. When in doubt, simply call up your provider and specifically ask if the professional you want to work with is covered under your insurance policy. If not, maybe ask to see if they can be added (often they can!)


5. Check-in with yourself after your first session and decide how you felt, whether you were comfortable to open up, and whether you were ready to book another session.

After your first session, I often ask many clients to take some time and reflect on their first therapy experience. The first session can sometimes be confusing and you may be uncertain about how you feel. This is totally normal and to be honest, it takes anywhere between 3-5 sessions to start seeing and feeling some real results. Take your time and don't pressure your therapy process. Depending on your goals and level of need, therapy can take some time and success comes from the diligence in making your mental health a priority. I often send my clients a welcome package at the end of each first appointment to help orient them to my services and offer some curated self-reflection questions to prompt some deeper thought and get you started on your journey right off the bat! I find so much value in these reflections and your emotions.

I hope this gives you some much needed encouragement and confidence to reach out for therapeutic support. It's normal to feel uncertain or nervous with being vulnerable with a complete stranger, but I know the value this vulnerability brings and I see and experience these results with my clients every single day. This is what motivates me to do the work I do and what truly makes it my passion.


Nicole


Like what you read? Feel free to contact me to find out more information on therapeutic services currently offered!

Everyday Self Counselling

Nicole Lobo, MA., RP

111 Waterloo St., Suite 207, London, ON | (519)-868-0882 | nicole.lobo21@outlook.com

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