In this paper, I will be looking at the purpose of the initial consultation meeting, and considering what happens during this first appointment and why it is such an important part of the client/therapist relationship. I will examine what the objectives of the first meeting are and illustrate how an ethical therapist uses this time to ensure that they have the appropriate skills to deal with the client’s issues or discuss alternatives.
Whilst the first part of the meeting is clearly an exercise in fact-finding, the most important aspect of an initial meeting is to ascertain if the client/therapist relationship will work successfully. Whether there is mutual respect, trust and clarity around what will happen in subsequent meetings. From the moment you meet your client, you will be assessing them; for example: understanding what kind of day they’ve had so far, their journey in. However, you will be trying to create an environment which puts both you and you patient at ease.
Therefore finding neutral subjects and shared ground in order to give them time to take in their new surroundings will in turn allow them assess and appraise you. The use of open questions and active listening techniques to glean answers rather than firing numerous questions at them will enable you to avoid thinking too far ahead to your treatment or even the next question. Give the client time to think and answer.
The increasing pressure to conduct businesses in a more timely and cost efficient manner has led to the development of technology within meetings. Teleconferencing is referred to as "interactive group communication." This technology enables a large number of people at different locations- whether they be local, interstate or overseas, to join a meeting in the comfort of their own home or office. ...
When your client is settled, this is a real opportunity to understand more about them. There are several routes you can take at this point. You could move straight onto filling in a Consultation Form. However, I think that this has the opportunity to switch the client off.
I feel it’s key to use this first 5-10 minutes to continue to understand the client. The therapist needs to consider their body language, the tone of their voice and even at this early stage perhaps their modality. Mirroring your client to a certain extent is a good technique to help them become more comfortable with the therapist.
Once you feel the client is at ease, you may need to ask them to fill out some basic details and to be as honest as possible. It may make sense at this point to explain that they can look at any notes you have taken( the notes are taken purely so the therapist can give the best possible experience to the client).
Also it’s a good time to share your Client Disclosure Form and explain your confidentiality policy. The form should include the fact that you are accredited (National Hypnotherapy Society and other bodies) but it would be worth explaining this and what this means in terms of code of conduct. Here are the basic details:
Consultation Date Client Name Date of Birth Home Address Contact Number Doctors Name Doctors Surgery and Address Occupation Marital Status Emergency Contact and Number Are you Pregnant Y/N Smoker Y/N Alcohol Y/N: If so how many units a week? Are any medications being taken Y/N (if yes, add details including milligrams)
This information will be useful to you understanding your clients life. However, one thing stands out clearly and that is the medication. If it is clear that the client is taking medication, set an expectation that you need to look up the affects of the medication. If necessary, with the clients consent you may need to contact their doctor for approval to start Hypnotherapy or Counselling.