“Why Is the Initial Consultation so Important? What Factors Will an Ethical Therapist Cover at This Time?”

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An initial consultation for any new client is very important. It is during this time that as a therapist you will be able to gather most of the vital information you will need in order to give the best possible treatment plan. There are exceptions however, for example, if you are carrying out one off sessions for people who want to quit smoking. During the consultation it is essential that you gather information about the clients’ health and current medication as this could present you with an issue that is beyond your limitations of practice. With this in mind I intend to look at the importance of the initial consultation and some of the ethics you will need to consider during this process. Some therapists will offer a free initial consultation; this can work in your favour if you are just starting out. It will give you the chance to outline your therapy style without the potential client feeling as though they are paying for something they are not entirely certain about. You can discuss fees and session lengths and you will both be able to decide whether you will be able to work with each other before committing to any financial outlay. It will give you the opportunity to start building rapport, with the pressure of cost out of the picture your client may be more at ease and more likely to open up, giving you the chance to obtain the relevant details you will need. One of the down sides of offering free sessions is that you will have given away your time, and although this may be beneficial in the long run if the client is willing to continue there is the possibility that they will not require your services. If you have too many free sessions in order to build a practice you may find that you have worked a whole week for free. You must also consider the legal issues relating to using free products as a sales pitch. It may leave you open to accusations that you were offering free sessions to attract venerable people who need help. The first thing to consider is how you will conduct the consultation. There will be a lot of information to take on board in a fairly short amount of time. “As with everything else in therapy, the ease, comfort, and confidence of the therapist are crucial” (Hypnosis for Change Karle and Boys (2010) If you appear flustered or unprepared the client will start to lose their confidence in you and your ability. You need to be able to build and maintain a good working relationship with your client. Your initial session will go much smoother if the client is at ease with you, as stated by Sydney Rosen (My Voice Will Go With You (1991) “Most therapists, regardless of their “school”, will agree that this rapport, the “doctor-patient relationship, “ is of central importance. First impressions are crucial. There is always the possibility that your personalities will clash, or that the issue they have come to you about is something you can not help them with. You will need to be able to handle the possibility of referral to a more experienced therapist and will need to consider the impact this may have on your client especially if they are not in a stable frame of mind. Find out as much information as possible about the issue the client is coming to see you about. You may have a number of questions you would like to ask a client during this session and may have a consultation form for this purpose; this is usually referred to as the “notation”. Gathering this information is vital to assess whether you can ethically work within your limits. As stated in Hypnotherapy: A Practical Handbook “Initially we seek to satisfy ourselves that the problem with which the patient presents is within our professional competence” The notation can be added to with each session ensuring you have an up to date view of the client and their on going progress.

The Notation

The way in which you construct your notation is a matter of choice, not all of the queries or questions will be relevant to every client, however it is...
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