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Therapy Consultation vs. Psychotherapy Intake

Updated: Jul 23


Are you looking to learn if you and the therapist are a good fit? Are you wanting to know if you can be helped by the therapist? Are you wanting some quick tips or skills from the therapist to help de-escalate the current situation? If so, you will benefit from an intake appointment with the therapist and not from a 10-20 minute consultation.

therapy consultation

Contrary to what others may think, a consultation with a therapist cannot help you or the therapist in deciding if they or you are a good fit for therapy. Studies have shown that the therapeutic relationship is important in the effectiveness of treatment. Good therapeutic relationships include commitment, consistency, trust, respect, and agreement on the goals of therapy. All of this begins with the initial intake therapy assessment. It is IMPOSSIBLE to begin or gain these during a consultation call.

Consultations have been encouraged to learn of the therapists style, to see if you click with them, to see if you feel safe with them and welcomed by them, and to see if schedules align. With this in mind, has the therapist provided enough information on their website to help you make your decision?

An initial intake/therapy assessment allows the therapist to confirm whether or not they can help you as they allow up to 90 minutes. If you have a personal history that includes "heavy", "trauma", "complex" situations, it's okay! Most therapists who are attuned and highly trained, can assess for this and make note that the initial assessment may take longer than one appointment--which is also okay!

During the initial appointment, you are able to:

  • Identify your goals for therapy

  • Ask questions

  • Identify your preferences and/or needs for therapy

  • Provide more information on the symptoms and presenting problems/issues

  • Make the best decision for yourself as to whether you want to continue with services with the therapist

  • Learn and begin implementing a new skill to de-escalate the presenting problem

While a consultation can allow you a chance to briefly and confidentially share information so that the therapist can better understand your needs and determine if they are a good fit for you, it is extremely brief and you may feel that you did not get to share everything you wanted. You may experience frustration with the many consultations you schedule due to explaining your situation/presenting problem to every therapist. A diagnosis or confirmation of the symptoms you are experiencing cannot be expected during a consultation.

Get serious about what you are looking for in a therapist and in treatment and answer the following questions:

  • What are your stressors/concerns/problems?

  • Are you looking for a specific treatment model?

  • When you decided you would see a therapist, was it for a brief issue or a lingering issue?

  • What are you in need of?

  • What are your MUST HAVES for your therapist?

With these answers, you should be able to narrow down your lists of potential therapists and better determine which will be a better fit. While there's no harm in requesting a consultation, know that what you are actually seeking is an initial assessment and not a consultation.


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