The first counseling session with your teenager

Deciding to seek help for a family member can be intimidating and overwhelming. Hopefully, this little guide can demystify some of the common questions about how to start therapy and the first session.

How to start therapy

The first contact

Making an appointment with a therapist can be intimidating, especially if it requires making a phone call. I offer online scheduling, so you can make an appointment to talk, even if it’s 2 am.


The phone call

I like to chat for about 15 minutes with you get a better idea about what has been going on. I want to make sure that your child and I are a good fit to work together, before you have to drive all the way to my office.

I will ask some questions to get a general overview of how things have been. I will also ask to see if your teenager is dealing with something that I think another therapist would do a better job with (like moderate-to-severe developmental delays). If so, I’d refer you to some other great clinicians. If everything sounds like a match, we’ll schedule the first session!

The first session

This intake session works a little differently than the other sessions. This session is about finding more about you and your child. We’ll talk about what you all want to be different and what’s working and not working in your child’s life.

I usually meet with the parents and their child separately at first. While I talk to you about paperwork (such as policies and consent for treatment), I’ll have your teenager fill out some questionnaires and forms.

Some of these forms ask for more detail about their situation. Other questions screen for any problems that might not be the reason you came in, but may cause some problems down the line (like difficulties with your teen’s mood).

I ask these questions because I’ve worked with a lot of older adults who told me “I’ve been dealing with this problem for decades, but no one ever asked me about it!” Asking is generally a much better policy than not asking.

When we’re done talking, you’ll switch with your teenager. I’ll go over all of the forms and hear their own opinions about what they need and want to be different.


At the end of this session, we come up with a game plan. This includes what we want to focus on, how often we want to meet, and what other things your teen might need (like school support or connection with a doctor).

When that’s all set up, the only thing left to do is pick a regular meeting time and begin!

Want more support? Read more about our teen counseling services, for things like anxiety, depression PTSD, and body image issues. Or, check out our counseling for transgender teens. If you’want to find out more about starting therapy, feel free to reach out.


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