When starting on the road to treatment with a new client it is essential to glean as much information from the client through the initial consultation as possible. This information will then enable you to devise and carryout a treatment plan. It is also essential to determine whether or not it is appropriate to treat the client or whether either for medical or ethical reasons you should not.
This first meeting will also give you as a therapist the opportunity to educate the client on what therapy you offer and whether or not both client and therapist feel comfortable working with each other.
There are many other factors that should be covered within the first consultation and a variety of issues surrounding these. I intend on looking at these in detail and identifying why this first consultation is so important.
How and where you carry out your first consultation is very important. The environment has to be professional but comfortable and relaxing. With minimal opportunity to be disturbed. It is important when carrying out your first consultation that you do not place barriers such as a desk between you and your client. You should sit side by side with an angle allowing you to observe the client but not intimidate them with a face to face posture. You should keep eye contact without staring, gently lean towards them but do not invade their personal space as this can make them very ill at ease. It is important to make regular eye contact and observations even when completing paper work, this will assure the client that you are listening. How you communicate both verbally and with body language whilst collating information will affect the responses you get from your client which in turn will affect you treatment.
The main purpose of the first consultation will be to complete the initial consultation form (ICF) which will allow the therapist to gather important information and data about the client. It is only once this information has been gathered that the therapist can safely identify if therapy can be performed. This time will also allow the therapist to build rapport (which essential for a good therapist/client relationship), assess for appropriate use of modalities, which induction style would be most appropriate and discuss payment and contract details.
Below is a list of questions which should be included in an initial consultation form (ICF).
Full name – Inc name they like to be used in addressing them.
Gender – If they feel comfortable discussing it.
Address & Tel numbers – Inc if they can be contacted on these
Relationship history – Inc current relationships/children
ICE – In Case of Emergency contact
Current & previous occupation’s
G.P’s name and surgery
Medical history – Inc any medications
Family medical history
Hobbies & Interest’s
Any addictions – current or previous
Phobia’s & likes/dislikes
Happy work/home life
Any previous experiences in counselling or hypnotherapy
What the clients goal is
Why have they decided to attend counselling at this time.
The ICF can be completed prior to the initial consultation, either through email or by phone. Doing this offers both advantages and disadvantages.
Completing the ICF in advance can be time saving, allowing the therapist, to read the form in advance and make themselves aware of the client’s details before the first face to face meeting. Letting the therapist make note on what areas to expand on when first meeting the client and allowing for greater time to carry out a initial treatment, often a personalised PMR (created with the ICF answers in mind) within the first consultation.
Completing the form during the initial consultation allows the therapist and client to build rapport while questions and answers flow. Learning to read your clients verbal and non-verbal communication is essential to