If this is your first time entering into counseling it may feel overwhelming and you may have some questions. Each state has a department of regulatory agency that regulates therapists but these requirements may vary slightly from state to state.
Typically, when you enter into counseling there are a few things that happen during that initial session. First the therapist/counselor will go over his/her mandated disclosure statement. This form gives you information about the therapist/counselor including their educational background, fees, method of practice, your client rights, confidentiality, etc. This is done so that you can make an informed decision about entering into the counseling relationship but also to understand the expectations of each person. They will have you sign it to ensure that they went over it with you. This a great time to ask any questions that you might have. You are also entitled to receive a copy if you would like.
Next they may you sign a Release of Information. What you say in counseling is confidential and we can not release or obtain information from others without your written consent to do so. This is often used to collaborate services (I.e. your child is having difficulties in school and the therapist wants to talk with the teacher) especially in working with children.
Finally, the therapist will complete their intake form to get information about you and what brings you in. This may include background information about you, your family, etc so that they can get a good picture of what is happening so they can better serve you. Treatment goals may be identified to help provide a roadmap. This may be short-term or long-term therapy depending on a number of factors. The first few sessions allows you to build rapport and trust with your therapist/counselor. Then its up to you how fast or slow you would like to do. You are always in the driver’s seat!