Your First Appointment

If you are a parent seeking counseling for your child or adolescent...

The Initial (“Intake”) Session
When possible, we prefer for the initial session to be a meeting between the psychologist and parent(s)/guardian, without the child or adolescent. This is done in order for the parent/guardian to be able to “check us out” before having your child/adolescent meet us, as well as to give you an opportunity to tell the psychologist any information about your child/adolescent which you think is important for the therapist to know. It also gives us a chance to answer any questions or concerns you might have about bringing your child to therapy. Moreover, we have found that children/adolescents often get anxious, curious or bored while parents are filling out the intake paperwork or speaking privately with us. We prefer for our initial meeting with your son or daughter to be focused more fully on spending time with them and addressing their needs. As a result, we generally meet with the child/adolescent during the second session.

During this initial session (without your child/adolescent), the psychologist will speak with the parent(s)/guardian about how therapy with children/adolescents works (including how play therapy works, if appropriate for your child). We will discuss what concerns you have about your son or daughter that resulted in seeking therapy for him or her as well as any attempts you or others have made to address the problem. We will explore ways in which these interventions have been successful or unsuccessful. We will also ask you questions about their current life and any stressors they may be struggling with. The psychologist will also talk with you about your son or daughter’s developmental and mental health history, and how that might be impacting the current situation. We will ask about any significant changes or stressors in the family that might be affecting your son or daughter as well.

We pride ourselves on doing a thorough assessment which is tailored to your child. This includes asking about what your son or daughter’s strengths and interests are, how they are doing in school, what their social life is like, what makes them happy and what motivates them.

You will have the opportunity to ask the psychologist any questions you might have, as well as coveying to that counselor any information you feel would be helpful in working with your son or daughter. The therapist will let you know the best ways to contact him/her, as well as what to do in case of an emergency with your child.

The psychologist will also review our intake paperwork with you (including our policies and procedures, confidentiality and its limits, federal privacy laws, etc.). If you would like to review and/or print and start filling out the paperwork in advance, you may do so (most of the intake forms are on our website under “Forms”, although there might be an additional form or two should you decide to have our office manager submit insurance claims for you to your insurance company). You will be able to complete any unfinished paperwork while the psychologist is meeting with your son/daughter during the second session.

Insurance Card and Payment
Please bring your child’s health insurance card with you for the psychologist to copy, as well as a method of payment for the session. We accept cash, checks, and all credit cards.

The Second Session
During the second session, the psychologist might check in briefly with the parent or guardian at the beginning or end of the appointment, but the bulk of the session will be spent with your child/adolescent. The psychologist will talk with your child/adolescent about how therapy works, as well as confidentiality and its limits. If we are doing play therapy with your child, we will explain the specifics about how play therapy works, too. We will do what we can to help your child feel as comfortable as possible (including exploring the play room and using art, games, toys, puppets, etc. when indicated) as we get to know him or her. We will then talk (and/or play) with your child or adolescent about why they were referred to therapy at this time, how they feel about that, and get their perspective and insights into the situation. We will discuss any previous attempts at resolving the problem and how well they worked. During this session, the therapist will screen for major mental health symptoms which will guide our diagnosis. We will start formulating a plan that might work better, and talk with both you and your child/adolescent about the next steps.

Can a Parent Be in the Room?
For very young children, we sometimes begin therapy with a parent present in the room until that child feels secure with us. It is our priority to create a safe, trusting environment, but our goal is also to enhance your child’s independence over the course of subsequent sessions. Sometimes children also find that it is easier to discuss certain topics privately, even if they know that eventually their parent will be filled in about them.

We might also invite one or both parents/guardians to join us for a session if your child/adolescent requests that or if the therapist feels it would be helpful in working with your son or daughter. At times, a session with the parent(s)/guardian without the child/adolescent present might also be warranted in order to best assist your son or daughter.

Feedback to Parents/Guardians
We provide feedback to the parent(s)/guardian about how your son or daughter is doing in therapy. However, the amount of feedback and degree of content will vary widely depending on the age of your child and on your child/adolescent’s comfort level with that. Some children/adolescents will not be forthcoming in therapy if they feel that everything they say will be told to their parents/guardians, so we try to strike a balance between protecting their sense of privacy and informing parents when important issues arise in the treatment. Parents/guardians will always be promptly informed when matters of safety are concerned.

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