What to expect when seeking mental health support

Teenage Girl being comfortedWhen people have not experienced meeting with a mental health professional, they can feel intimidated or scared about meeting for the first time.  There are some things you can do to help yourself or your child to feel more comfortable.

  • The first time you meet with a mental health professional, they will ask you about your life and what problems you are having. They will ask you why you are seeking help and what problems you are having. They have to understand the issues before they can begin to help you.  They will also ask about your  background, your family and current living situation, these help them to understanding you better. Understanding family history helps them to get a perspective of your issues.  They will also ask about how your mental health is impacting your life in terms of school, work, home, and relationships.
  • Remember, they are there to help you, not judge you. The things that you share they will keep confidential. The only time a therapist or counselor is required to break that confidentiality if a person poses an imminent threat to themselves, the therapist, or a third party. Then information must be shared to a person who can take action to reduce the threat of injury.
  • Be willing to open up and share. You can’t just sit there and think they will somehow read your mind. Be open and honest in your answers. You have to take an active part in the process.
  • Before you see a counselor, think about how to describe what you are experiencing and feeling. Be able to tell them what your reasons were for seeking help. Be open and honest about your feelings. A lot will be going through your head in this first session. Listen to your own reactions and feelings, and share them with the therapist. You’ll both learn from these insights.
  • Think about what questions you would want to ask them ahead of the session. This will help you to better understand the therapy process and feel prepared.  You may want to ask them about their background and training.
  • During your session, be willing to ask questions. If they say something you don’t understand, ask them to repeat it or explain it more. They want you to understand, you need to let them know when you don’t understand.
  • Remember, therapy is a process and not a simple fix for your problem. With some effort on your part and a building a strong, trusting relationship with your therapist, you can be successful in coping or resolving your issues.