Beginning meetings appropriately with clients is essential

Beginning meetings appropriately with clients is essential, since the first impression is often the lasting impression. Generally, the therapeutic assessment interview takes place during the initial meeting between the client and the counselor. During this interview process, the counselor will gather, assess, and analyze pertinent information from the client about their current cognitive, emotional, social, and behavioral experiences, precipitating factors/events, and mental health history, including their family history.

As you may imagine, disclosing this information can be difficult for most people. Beginning a therapeutic relationship can provoke feelings of anxiousness. Clients generally feel anxious to have the problem bringing them to therapy resolved, but they are also anxious about whether there will be a connection with the counselor, and what they can expect from the therapeutic process. To help relieve clients of these anxious feelings, counselors are encouraged to frame the purpose and the process of counseling by setting the tone for the relationship. Counselors can achieve this task by using the initial meeting to establish the therapeutic relationship, setting boundaries, and establishing rules and expectations of the helping context such as confidentiality, crisis management, professional disclosure statement, etc.

Think about how you would set the tone and establish a therapeutic relationship with a client. Demonstrate how you would begin your initial meeting with a client. Include the following in your introduction response:

  • Explanation of the counseling process including the purpose of the therapeutic assessment interview
  • Identify counselor and client expectations (what the client can expect from you and you from them)
  • Explain what will happen during the initial meeting and subsequent sessions
  • Limits of confidentiality
  • Checkout question
  • Door opener

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