Your First Session With A Psychologist: What To Expect


I’ve Made An Appointment With A Clinical Psychologist…


So you’ve made the decision that you want to speak with a psychologist about the issues that have been troubling you. This decision can be a big step so it’s normal to feel nervous or apprehensive before your first appointment, especially if you’ve never set foot in a psychologist’s office before. Your first appointment might be the first time you’ve tried to put your struggles into words, or the first time you’ve even acknowledged the stressors you’ve been coping with in your life. Seeking help is a positive step. Don’t let your nerves put you off. Hopefully some of the following information will help to alleviate some of the uncertainty of your first session.

Is this your idea of psychology?

Is this your idea of psychology?

Do I Need A Referral?

No, not necessarily. However, you may be eligible for a Mental Health Care Plan from your General Practitioner (GP), which allows you to obtain rebates from your sessions (see ‘How much will it cost?’).

What Will My Psychologist’s Office Look Like?

This can vary, but expect something along the lines of a standard office, but typically with two chairs or couches facing each other – this is where your sessions will take place.

What Sort Of Questions Will My Psychologist Ask Me?

The purpose of the first session (the ‘assessment session’) is to get an understanding of what is troubling you in your life today. Your psychologist will also ask more broad questions about your life, including your work, education, family, social supports, medical and developmental history, past treatments… It’s a lot! For this reason, the assessment can often take more than one session. Importantly, by the end of the assessment phase you and your psychologist should have a shared understanding of what personal issues you would like to better understand and/or the changes you would like to make in your life, your ‘goals’ for therapy.

How Will I Feel After The First Session?

This can vary from person to person. Some people feel relief after the first session, while others might feel tense or drained. But, very importantly, your psychologist should make you feel comfortable, safe, heard, and understood.

How Much Will It Cost?

Psychologists and clinical psychologists will typically charge the fees recommended by The Australian Psychologist Society (APS), or less. If you obtain a Medicare Mental Health Care Plan from your GP, you will be able to claim a rebate for 10 sessions of individual therapy per calendar year (1 January – 30 December). Your referring doctor will assess your progress after six sessions. The rebate for a psychologist is $84.80 per session, and the rebate for a clinical psychologist is $124.50 per session.

Brittany McGill is a clinical psychologist who completed her postgraduate clinical training at the University of New South Wales. She is interested in anxiety and mood disorders across the lifespan and uses cognitive-behavioural and other evidence-based strategies to help people achieve positive change in their lives.


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