New Patients – What to Expect
You do not need to be in significant distress to seek counseling. Sometimes our beliefs or expectations of ourselves or of counseling results in a delay in seeking help until situations become serious, or we are already in crisis. While no issue is too big or small, many people tell us that they wish they had come to counseling sooner. Start a new journey and seek counseling earlier rather than later!
What to Expect in Your First Counseling Session
Are you about to go to a counselor for the first time? Whatever your reason for seeking help, you will be more at ease and get better results if you know what to expect.
In your first session, the therapist typically will ask certain questions about you and your life. This information helps him make an initial assessment of your situation. Questions he might ask include:
Why you sought therapy. A particular issue probably led you to seek counseling. The therapist has to understand your surface problem(s) before he can get to the deeper issues.
Your personal history and current situation. The therapist will ask you a series of questions about your life. For example, because family situations play an important role in who you are, he’ll ask about your family history and your current family situation.
Your current symptoms. Other than knowing the reason you sought therapy, the therapist will attempt to find out if you’re suffering from other symptoms of your problem. For example, your problem might be causing difficulty at work.
The therapist will use this information to better understand your problem. And, while he may make a diagnosis at the end of your first visit, it’s more likely that a diagnosis will take a few more sessions.
Don’t just sit there
Therapy is a team effort. If you don’t take an active part in the session, you won’t find the counseling experience valuable. Here are some things you can do to make your first session as successful as possible.
Be open. Therapists are trained to ask the right questions, but they’re not mind readers. The therapist can do his job more effectively if you answer the questions openly and honestly.
Be prepared. Before you get to the session, know how to describe “what’s wrong,” and to describe your feelings about your problem. One way to prepare is to write down the reasons you’re seeking help. Make a list and then read it out loud. Hearing yourself say it a few times will help you describe things more clearly to the therapist.
Ask questions. The more you understand the counseling experience or how counseling works, the more comfortable you’ll be. Ask questions about the therapy process, and ask the therapist to repeat anything you don’t understand.
Be open and honest about your feelings. A lot will be going through your head in this first session. Listen to your own reactions and feelings, and share them with the therapist. You’ll both learn from these insights.
Be sure to go to your first session with realistic expectations. Therapy is not a quick fix for your problem, rather it is a process. With some effort on your part and a strong relationship with your therapist, it can be a successful tool toward resolving problems.
When a community member comes in for services, they have certain rights. First and foremost, is the right to confidentiality. Confidentiality means that no staff at Behavioral Health can talk about you and your concerns outside of this agency without you giving Behavioral Health written permission to do so.
Other rights include, but are not limited to:
the right to receive prompt and adequate treatment
to refuse treatment, including medication
to refuse to be filmed or recorded without your consent
to access your treatment records after discharge–with proper notice & within the limitations of the law
to bring court action for damages against people who violate your rights or confidentiality.
the right to file a verbal and/or written complaint with the Behavioral Health Director, to have a grievance procedure available to you, and to have an advocate represent you during the grievance process
In addition, there are specific state regulations that pertain to outpatient mental health and AODA treatment for children and adolescents, as outlined in brochure
Exceptions to the Rights of Confidentiality
Duty to warn
Records subpoenaed by court, pending Tribal Law Office approval
No Show Policy
Behavior Health has a new policy that addresses No Show appointments. Recently, OBH determined that one out of every four initial appointments is No Show
A No Show is defined as: Not communicating 24 hours or more in advance to OBH that an appointment cannot be kept
When a client does not attend a scheduled appointment
No Show of first initial appointment (Intake):
Triage Consult required after No Show and prior to scheduling another Intake appointment
No Show of follow up appointment (Counseling):
Three (3) missed appointments/No Shows within three months could result in discharge from services, with an inability to access services for a time period of six months
Participation in Treatment Contract
Community members participating in services at Behavioral Health will be required to sign an Individual Participation Contract. This contract outlines the following expectations:
Abstain from inappropriate use of alcohol or complete abstinence from alcohol if indicated on community member’s treatment plan.
Commit to abstinence of any illicit substances.
In the event medications are prescribed, individual agrees to take only his/her own medications, following the instructions of the prescribing physician.
If the individual is unable to follow these expectations, they agree to inform their counselor.
Individual agrees to random urine drug screens if requested by their primary and/or other OBH providers. A pregnant individual will agree to random urine drug screens. Failure to comply with this request could result in discharge from services.
Behavioral Health psychiatrists have the right to decline prescribing medication for those people who use illicit substances and/or for those who do not follow up with counseling recommendations.
Community members will attend counseling as scheduled. If unable to attend, individual agrees to give at least 24 hours advanced notice of any cancellation. Three (3) missed scheduled appointments within 3 months will result in discharge from services.
An individual involved in group counseling will attend all sessions as scheduled. Two (2) unexcused absences from the group could result in immediate discharge from that service.
Hours of Operation
Monday – Friday, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.
Outside of regular business hours, calls made to Behavioral Health, (920) 490-3790, are automatically forwarded to the Brown Co. Crisis Center.
For the convenience of community members, some specific groups are scheduled during evening hours.