Your First Visit to a Mental Health Clinic: What to Expect

The weather is often a metaphor for how things are going in daily life. Such as, it’s a bright and cheery day or, asking someone who rained on their parade. Just as the weather changes and has many different states, so does the human psyche. Hopefully, for most, the days are sunny and cheerful. But sometimes, the grey skies appear and rain may fall. Sometimes the grey skies and rainy days do not lift however. When this happens, some find that therapy and the services of mental health clinics to be the needed cure to welcome the sun back and end the rainy days.

Thinking of therapy, finding a psychologist, psychiatrist or counselor may be overwhelming, especially for someone experiencing depression, anxiety or another type of emotional disorder or mental illness. But once the decision has been made, finding the right therapist for the patient and the symptoms is key. Sometimes a referral is needed, so be sure to review the health insurance policy if one is had for how the mental health benefits work. Once the referral is in place, be sure to talk with the potential therapists and understand their expertise. Also be honest when describing symptoms and answering questions. This will help to ensure that both patient and therapist know if the match is a good one.

Depending on the circumstances, a combination of talk therapy and medication may be needed. If this is recommended, it is always best to follow the doctor’s prescription for both, as they compliment each other and help the treatment work more effectively and efficiently. Many therapists work in a clinic setting, so that they may combine services with prescribing psychiatrists and other mental health specialists. At first it may be unnerving when entering mental health clinics, especially if there have been several visits to interview potential therapists.

Remember that the therapist’s goal is to help patients and they are not there to judge the patient or any past behaviors. There may be some initial paperwork at the first visit and an assessment that is conducted by a series of questions to assess the emotional state and come up with a diagnosis. Although the word clinical may sound cold and off putting, many therapist’s offices are warm and cozy, to help make the patient feel comfortable, safe and to ease the necessary conversation. Sometimes the therapist may recommend group therapy or other work that is also held in the clinic.

Group therapy can be especially helpful for those who are dealing with grief due to the loss of a loved one or for a patient entering recovery. Having a setting for family therapy and marital therapy for families dealing with recovery or grief or those who are not, is another benefit of mental health clinics. As the sessions go on, there will come a point where the therapist will realize that the patient has overcome the rainy days and will recommend a tapering of the therapy. If grief, mental illness, depression, or any other issue has the rain pouring, it is recommended to seek professional medical advice in regards to seeing out therapy.