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  • Writer's pictureCrystin Rice

What to Expect When Starting Counseling

Updated: Sep 2, 2023

It can be hard to reach out for help, especially if you are new to therapy. Here is what you can expect at your first appointment.

Congratulations on taking the first steps toward a better you! Here is some information that may be useful in preparing for your appointment. If you have any questions, feel free to call 785-422-7113.

Preparing for Your Appointment

After the initial phone call or email, you will receive an email link to the online client portal. The portal will include a handful of forms to fill out that help your therapist get prepared for your first visit. These forms include a history of your mental health concerns, information about the therapy process and your rights in therapy, and insurance information (if you wish to file with insurance). Please complete these forms before your first appointment.

Directions to the Building

The Omni Business Center is located to the west of Towne East Mall just before the entrance to Eastborough. This location has easy access to both K-96 and Rock Road as well as the Wichita Transit route. There is parking available near the entrance.

Please check in with the receptionist and then take a seat. Your therapist will come to the lobby to greet you. If your appointment is outside of typical business hours when the external doors are locked, your therapist will meet you at the door at the start of your appointment time.

If you need to stop in the restroom, you will find those straight ahead just behind the elevator bank.

Starting the Appointment

Your therapist will invite you to the therapy room and help you get comfortable. I offer coffee, sodas, hot chocolate, cider, and water. You are welcome to wrap up in a cozy blanket or explore the variety of fidgets that are available.

At first, there will be some initial information to discuss about your rights and privacy in therapy. Feel free to ask any questions that you have about the therapy process.

Once paperwork is finished, you will have a chance to get acquainted and discuss your needs and goals in therapy. Building a trusting relationship with your therapist takes time, so it's okay if you aren't ready to go into depth in these early sessions. Your therapist understands that feeling safe and accepted is an important part of the therapeutic process. Therapy can proceed at whatever pace you feel comfortable with. If you aren't ready to discuss something, it's perfectly okay to tell your therapist that. Conversely, if you're ready to dive right in, your therapist is ready to join you in that as well. You direct the pace of therapy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you do in therapy? Isn't it just a place to vent?

Therapy is about improving your mental health. Your therapist is trained to help you discover ways to alleviate your emotional distress. This may include discovering unhealed parts of yourself; working through self-defeating behaviors, distressing beliefs and feelings, and difficult relationship issues; or developing new skills and ways of interacting that protect your mental health. You and your therapist collaborate to create the change that you seek.

Many people have it worse than I do. Can I still come to therapy?

Absolutely. Therapy helps you work toward your goals for a healthier you. Those goals will be different for everyone.

I am looking for individual therapy. Can I see a Marriage and Family Therapist?

Yes. Marriage and Family Therapists see individuals and groups of all ages and stages. In fact, much of the work Marriage and Family Therapists do is with individual clients. The difference between a Marriage and Family Therapist and other kinds of therapists is in the type of training we receive. Marriage and Family Therapists are trained to think systemically, which means that we include a focus on how current and past relationships affect your mental health. Many people have influenced your life along the way and you may have developed ways of interacting in those relationships that helped you navigate difficult circumstances. Those "survival tactics" may no longer be useful in your new relationships and, in fact, might be causing you difficulty. You can only know what you were taught, however, and so a Marriage and Family Therapist can help you develop new ways of interacting that may be more successful in these new relationships.

How long does therapy take?

There is no easy answer because people are unique with their own set of concerns, needs, and goals. Also people grow and change at different rates. In general, clients often feel some symptom relief in an average of 3 months. After a period of growth and change, clients may feel they have met their goals and are ready to end treatment or may choose to check in at regular intervals for maintenance. Following treatment, clients may choose to re-enter a period of therapy for a specific goal as new needs arise. Clients are always in charge of how long they choose to come to therapy and can stop at any time.

Who can come with you to therapy?

Most of the time those who attend therapy are there for working toward shared goals. Sometimes you might find it helpful to bring a supportive friend or family member with you to therapy. If that is the case, your therapist may need to advise them of the legal and ethical guidelines that therapists abide by and have them sign paperwork at the beginning of the session to consent to the processes of therapy.

Out of concern for the emotional wellbeing of young children, please discuss ahead of time with your therapist if you will have young children with you who are not part of the therapy goals. Children under 14 cannot be left alone in the waiting room.

Out of consideration for those with allergies, please do not bring pets or emotional support animals into the office.

What should I do if I need help outside of my appointment time?

Anchor of Hope does not have an emergency answering service. You can leave a message for your therapist and receive a return call within 24 hours during business hours, but you are always advised to call 911 in an emergency. For additional emergency hotline numbers, visit the resources page. Your therapist may also help you develop a plan based on your specific needs.

Will a therapist take one person's side in couple therapy?

There are no "sides" in therapy. Your therapist sees the relationship as the client and will work to support the health of the relationship. This can include helping both of you see ways to change patterns in how you relate to each other as well as learning skills to navigate a compromise and work around each partner's emotional triggers.

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