All of us face challenges in life. Sometimes these challenges become too much for us to meet alone. When this happens, the Counseling Services staff at Sentara Behavioral Health can help.
Common Problems Faced by Our Patients
- Drug dependence (Addiction)
- Adjustment disorder
- Alcohol dependence (Alcoholism)
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Alzheimer's disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Anxiety disorders
- Schizoaffective disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Seasonal affective disorder
What to Expect From Your First Counseling Session
When You Arrive
When you first arrive, please check in at our front office. Have your insurance cards and any additional forms of ID ready as needed. You will be given a presenting issues form to complete if you have not done so already. These forms ask questions such as your name, address, insurance information and other important details. Once completed, return the forms to the front desk. Your counselor will then come to the waiting room to greet you and take you to his or her office.
The First Appointment
During your first appointment, your counselor will take time to get to know you, to find out the reason behind your visit, and other information that will help him or her better understand who you are and how he or she can help you. During this initial visit your counselor will also be asking questions related to your overall health. Often these questions are required by your health insurance or managed care company. Your counselor may cover such things as your childhood, education, relationships and your career. You will discuss treatment options, the length of your treatment, and patient confidentiality. Any questions you may have are welcomed during this process.
It is normal to feel nervous and unsure during your first visit. If you ever feel concerned about the reason for any of the questions asked by your counselor, please share this with him or her. Your counselor will be happy to discuss this with you. Typically, you will meet with your counselor for a 50-minute session. After each visit you will again meet with our support staff to schedule follow-up appointments and payment information. Your appointment may or may not be the same time each week.
After your first visit, you may feel a range of emotions, from relief and hope to anxiousness and concern. This is normal! As you become more comfortable with your counselor and with sharing information about yourself, these concerns should fade.
After meeting with you, your counselor may determine that you could benefit from medication. If so, your counselor will discuss with you the most effective way for you to be evaluated by a physician. With your written permission, your counselor can work with your physician in order to coordinate your care.
You’re the Expert on Your Life
You are a vital participant in the planning of your treatment. You will be very involved with creating your own goals and will often be asked to work on these goals between sessions. We encourage you to ask questions and discuss your progress with your counselor at any time. Therapy is a team effort so be open, honest and ask many questions – this is your time to heal.
This is Your Time
The first session is also an opportunity for you to ask questions or interview your therapist to understand his or her therapeutic approach and to see if it feels like a good fit for you. Some areas for discussion:
- Your therapist's approach or type of therapy
- What type of therapy, or service might be appropriate for you
- The goals of your treatment
- How many therapy sessions you may need.