Barbara V. Rivas, LCSW, ACSW, DCSW, QCSW
Your First Therapy Sessions
The first session or two of therapy is a time for mutual connection, a time for the therapist to learn about you and your issues. The therapist may ask for a mental and physical health history.It’s also a good idea to talk to the therapist about what you hope to achieve in therapy. Together, you can set goals and benchmarks that you can use to measure your progress along the way.This is also an important time for you to be evaluating your connection with your therapist. Do you feel like your therapist cares about your situation, and is invested in your recovery? Do you feel comfortable asking questions and sharing sensitive information? Remember, your feelings as well as your thoughts are important, so if you are feeling uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to consider another therapist.
State law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:
1. If there is suspected child abuse, elder abuse, or dependent adult abuse.
2. A situation in which serious threat to a reasonably well-identified victim is communicated to the therapist.
3. When threat to injure or kill oneself is communicated to the therapist.
4. If you are required to sign a release of confidential information by your medical insurance.
5. If you are required to sign a release for psychotherapy records if you are involved in litigation or other matters with private or public agencies. Think carefully and consult with an attorney before you sign away your rights. We
can discuss some foreseeable possibilities together.
6. I may at times speak with professional colleagues about our work without asking permission, but your identity will be disguised.
7. Clients under 18 do not have full confidentiality from their parents.
8. It is also important to be aware of other potential limits to confidentiality that include the following: a) All records as well as notes on sessions and phone calls can be subject to court subpoena under certain extreme circumstances. Most records are stored in locked files but some are stored in secured electronic devices. b) Cell phones, portable phones, faxes, and e-mails are used on some occasions. c) All electronic communication compromises your confidentiality.
I will not acknowledge the existence of our therapeutic relationship outside of the counseling session, unless it is initiated by you. The therapeutic relationship is a professional one, and at no time will it become a social or business relationship. I will not attend special events such as weddings, baby showers, graduations, etc. It is my belief that once a therapeutic alliance is established any social or business relationship between client and therapist would be counterproductive and detrimental to the purposes of counseling.