The assessment can be carried out either by video calling or in person. In most cases it lasts an hour and a half. It is "a getting to know you session" for both parties.
When a client makes an appointment for an assessment with me it is normal practice for me to be asking myself questions like "will therapy be useful for this client? Are they ready for therapy? to what extent is my own knowledge, experience, and skills suitable for this person's needs?". I am sure my clients go through a similar process asking themselves questions such as "Is this going to help? is this the right therapist for me? Will she understand me?"or "can I afford this?". Uncertainty around forming this new relationship is common.
Getting To Know You
At the assessment, you may find me asking you questions such as "What do you know about therapy? What does therapy mean to you? How do you think counselling may help you? I don't have the expectation that you will know the answers.
What I will be trying to do is convey my curiosity and respect around your knowledge about how different types of conversations and ways of working together might make a difference to whatever is troubling you. At the same time, I will offer to talk about my own knowledge of how therapy may work for you. Basically, I am trying to get to know you and your needs. It is not a test. There are no right or wrong answers.
I Hope To .......
My aim is to create the conditions for open dialogue and collaborative learning. I want to be guided by you in terms of how to approach your problem. In addition, I want to be open about the reality that I possess a certain amount of knowledge and experience, some of which might represent new opportunities for you.
My assumption is that it is unlikely that we will engage in dialogue around these issues until we have got to know each other a little better. My experience has been that, at the start of therapy, most clients do not have a clear idea of what they are looking for from a therapist (it is not my intention to sound patronising).
However, you most likely will have a vague sense of what would be helpful or unhelpful for you, and part of my job is to create the conditions under which this sense can be turned into something more specific and concrete. To create a shared understanding of how to move forward together.
prior to the assessment
In my work with clients, it is my intention to build a scaffolding of shared understanding, within which collaboration might take place from the start. The written information you will receive via email prior to our assessment will convey key messages around the importance of working together, confidentiality and my flexibility in trying to find the best way to address your needs.
You will be requested to fill in an online pre-assessment form also prior to our meeting which will give me further information regarding your situation and mindset. Feel free to take a look at it now and see how you feel about the questions, you don't have to fill it in now.
after the assessment
I will ask you to reflect on the assessment meeting and we can communicate via email if you would like to proceed or not. If the conclusion is that therapy with myself is not the right thing for you right now I will signpost you to other organisations that will be beneficial to you at this time.
It might be just too much for you, you may not be ready to take it further. You may just disappear. That is OK too. My door will stay open to welcome you for when you are ready. I will not ask awkward, uncomfortable questions like why didn't you respond sooner. I'll be here when its the right time for you.