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What to expect in your first appointment with a perinatal clinical psychologist

It is understandable if you feel nervous before your first appointment. You probably don’t know what to expect and we don’t know each other yet. I hope reading this goes some way towards helping you feel more comfortable.

What happens before our first appointment?

We may have already had a brief chat on the phone and have an idea that we are a good fit. I will also have asked you to give me some details (name, date of birth – that sort of thing) and some Terms and Conditions for our work together.

What will we talk about when we meet?

This initial assessment appointment is an opportunity to expand on our initial telephone conversation. I will ask some gentle questions about yourself and your life, and explore possible goals. I might check if you are comfortable filling in a couple of questionnaires to help my understanding.

If we both feel happy to progress we’ll continue meeting at the same day and time and go from there.

I’ve been told I have a relaxed style and put people at ease, so I hope it feels just like a conversation!

What is a psychological formulation?

During the assessment session I will be beginning to draw together the things we discuss into a ‘psychological formulation’. A formulation is a bit like a personal road map which makes sense of the factors which have lead you to these problems, including information about your strengths and resources. Crucially it helps me understand how best to help you feel better.

What if you can’t help me?

Very rarely I might feel your needs would be better met by someone else, although I would usually spot this during our initial telephone conversation. Equally you might decide your not comfortable with me. Either way, I will do my best to help you find help elsewhere.

What if I don’t want to talk about something?

That is completely fine. You’re in control. In fact, if you have experienced is trauma I will usually ask you to just stick to headlines or labels around difficult events. This is because I want to keep you feeling safe until you are ready to tell me more.

I understand how hard it is to begin talking about things. I will have heard something similar before in my 18 years of providing therapy to help people. You will almost always feel better after sharing what’s on your mind, but everything is at your own pace.

What happens at the end of an assessment appointment?

In our last five minutes or so I’ll usually reflect on the things we’ve spoken about and share some thoughts about how we might work together – what type of therapy approach would be best and how many sessions we might want, always checking you are comfortable with this plan. We would then continue meeting, usually on the same day and time each week so you can depend upon the containment of a regular and safe therapy space.

Finally… Want to learn more?

You can take a look at answers to some Frequently Asked Questions here.

Contact me to learn more about how I might help you. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter to receive a curated newsletter with tips, resources and support.

Dr Miriam Inder – helping you have Better Beginnings