Looking for a therapist can be a bit intimidating. You’ve decided you want to reach out to a professional, but there are so many profiles and websites out there. It’s tough to narrow it down to find someone that sounds like someone you’d like to work with. Then you start to notice on nearly every profile and website you look at, you see “free 15 minute phone consultation!” Not everyone knows what a phone consultation is, and if you are reaching out to a therapist due to some anxiety, ‘not knowing’ can stop you in your tracks. I’d like to help you feel a bit more comfortable and confident taking these fantastic steps for yourself by answering - what exactly is a phone consultation?
A phone consultation is a brief conversation used to determine if there is a good fit between you and the therapist you are potentially working with. This a great opportunity for the therapist to learn about you and what you’re looking for, as well as for you to ask any questions you might have for them. Though every consult will be slightly different here are some things that may come up in your consult.
What you’re looking for help with.
This is a great topic of discussion because it gives you an opportunity to share a brief summary of what is going on for you right now. The therapist you are speaking with will start to get a picture of what you want help with, and they can let you know if they have the skills and experience to do so! If they don’t have the specialization you are looking for, they might be able to provide referrals for you to someone who does!
The therapist’s style.
Just like every person is unique, the same goes for therapists! Some therapists are direct, others are more stoic, and still others are energetic and bubbly… the style is endless! You have an opportunity to get a feel for the therapist’s personality on the phone, and also hear about how they structure sessions and what kinds of models or interventions they typically use with someone in your situation.
In your conversation, you will likely discuss some money related things, like fees for sessions, whether they take insurance, whether you even want to use your insurance anyways, that kind of thing. Feel free to ask questions. If you decide to use insurance, you may want to call your insurance company directly and find out if you have coverage, or if there are any limitations for number of therapy sessions, etc. You also always have the option to do self-pay if they do not take your insurance, or use your out-of-network benefits if you have them.
After chatting and you both decide it seems like a good fit, hopefully there is a time slot that will work for you two to meet. Because there is only one therapist and lots of potential clients out there, your ideal time may not be available. Thinking creatively, not to mention prioritizing your health and wellbeing with yourself (and maybe your place of work), is important. You are worth it! For most if not all people, actively deciding to prioritize therapy and working on themselves is a huge part of being ready to dig into the work that comes with self-growth and healing.
Yes! You have an appointment, and you’re feeling great about this. Next steps may include confirming your appointment time, getting directions to the office, and talking about the intake paperwork process. A lot of therapists have clients fill out paperwork ahead of time to get demographic information and some more clinically relevant information from you before the first session. I send an email out with the directions to my office, as well as a link to my secure patient portal where my clients are able to log in and complete paperwork at least 24 hours in advance of their appointment. This way I can review it before they walk in the door, and they don’t have to take up their session time filling it out.
Therapists want to address any concerns, worries, and questions you may have about the process. Feel free to voice them! If something was not clear, or not yet addressed, speak up :)
So there you have it! As I mentioned, phone consults will vary among different therapists, so your conversation may have more items or fewer items than are on this list. Hopefully this gives you an idea and clears up any anxiety about what exactly this phone consult is. I personally love phone consultations because it is the first step in developing a therapeutic relationship, and a lot of my clients have told me that they actually started to feel better during the consult! This is why I always do a phone consult with potential clients before scheduling that first appointment. Overall, a phone consultation is there to make sure that both you and the therapist feel good about working together in the therapy room!
Brittany Schnurr, LMFT is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of Connecticut. Brittany owns a private practice in South Glastonbury, CT called Vibrant Solutions LLC where she works with individuals and couples. Brittany loves to help smart, driven, people-pleasing women move from self-doubt and perfectionism to confidence and clarity about their lives. If you are interested in working with her, click here to set up a consult or call 860-384-7626.