Your first virtual mental health session, whether it's with a therapist, counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist, will likely follow a similar structure to an in-person session. Here's what you can generally expect:
- Preparation and Technology Check: Before the session make sure your device (computer, tablet, or smartphone) is working properly, the camera and microphone are functional, and you have a stable internet connection.
- Introductions and Paperwork: Just like in an in-person session, you'll start with introductions. The mental health professional will likely explain their role, their approach to therapy, and the confidentiality guidelines. You might also need to fill out some paperwork or answer some questions related to your personal and medical history.
- Discussion of Concerns and Goals: The therapist will invite you to share why you sought help and what specific concerns or issues you're experiencing. This is an opportunity for you to express your feelings, thoughts, and challenges. They may ask about your symptoms, their duration, and how they affect your daily life.
- Creating a Treatment Plan: Based on your concerns and goals, the mental health professional will work with you to create a treatment plan. This plan might involve specific therapeutic techniques, coping strategies, and goals for your progress.
- Establishing Rapport: Building a trusting relationship is crucial in therapy. Your therapist will work to establish rapport with you, making you feel comfortable and understood. They'll encourage open communication and let you know that your feelings and experiences are valid.
- Explaining the Therapeutic Approach: The therapist might explain the therapeutic approach they plan to use to address your concerns. This could be cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), psychodynamic therapy, mindfulness-based therapy, or others. They'll help you understand how this approach can help you manage your challenges.
- Setting Expectations: It's important to have clear expectations for therapy. The therapist might discuss the frequency of sessions, the duration of treatment, and how progress will be tracked. They might also talk about what you can do between sessions to support your mental health.
- Addressing Questions and Concerns: This is a good time for you to ask any questions or express any concerns you have about the therapy process, the therapist's qualifications, or anything else related to your treatment.
- Practice and Homework: Depending on the therapeutic approach, you might start practicing certain techniques or strategies right away. The therapist might give you some "homework" assignments or activities to work on between sessions.
- Scheduling Future Sessions: Project Semicolon is currently exploring the rollout of a scheduling functionality for future updates to the platform. Currently, the platform isn't setup to facilitate the scheduling of future sessions. If you find that you like your provider, feel free to arrange a time for a future session while you're connected and in session.
Remember that every therapist and therapy session can be unique, so the flow might vary slightly. It's also important to be patient with yourself and the process. Building a therapeutic relationship takes time, and progress may not be immediately apparent. Over time, you should start to notice positive changes and growth in your mental and emotional well-being.