Your First Online Appointment

How to Prepare for Your First Psychiatry, Mental or Behavioral Health Session?

 

Whether it’s your first time looking into behavioral health care or you’ve been in therapy for years, it’s important to be prepared for your appointment with the appropriate behavioral health provider. This includes doing some introspective thinking and mental preparation as well as making setting up your meeting space. Here are some tips that touch on both parts of your prep-work.

Informational Preparation

First step in preparing for your session involves having at hand useful information to share with your provider to help them help you. Most of the below information can be given to your provider through sending them your completed intake form via your Inpathy account.

  1. Any person or organization that you have reached out to about your issues, including another therapist, your doctor, a clergy or rabbi, or support groups like AA.
  2. A list of all the medications you are currently taking for physical and/or mental health reasons. Make sure to include the medication name, dose, frequency, any experienced side-effects and the contact information for all doctors prescribing the medicine.
  3. Copies of documents that might be helpful, such as previous psychological testing, hospital discharge summaries or recent laboratory results. Your provider may ask you to scan in any of these documents and share them through the Inpathy platform.
    • If you are preparing information on behalf of a minor, you can also include recent school progress reports if you believe they are relevant.
  4. Written out questions to ask your provider about their philosophy of care and specialties. Most Inpathy providers have this information posted on their profiles but you can always probe for more details to make sure that your provider is a good fit for you. Here are a few sample questions to ask:
    • How long have they been practicing for?
    • How much experience do they have with individuals like you or with your specific issues?
    • What kind of training did they receive?
    • What kind of approach to treatment do they prefer?
    • Are they ok if you include family or social support in some of the sessions?

Physical Preparation

This part of preparing for your session is not something you may be used to thinking about when getting ready for a behavioral health session. It involves making sure that your comfortable space is appropriate for discussing private and personal information and that your devices are properly positioned. Below are some recommendations for doing that!

Planning

Don’t schedule anything fifteen minutes before or after your appointment. Even though you don’t have to go anywhere, give your online appointment the respect it deserves by planning for it appropriately ahead of time.

Schedule a Test Call

Inpathy has a team designated to conducting video test sessions so that you can feel confident and prepared when it is time for your appointment. This is a good way to test your microphone, camera and internet connection. To schedule a 10-20 minute test session with the Inpathy Care Navigator you must log in to your Inpathy account, view your provider list, select Inpathy Care Navigator, view their availability and request a session.

Setting

Before your appointment, choose the space in your home where you’ll have your appointment.

Make sure that this space is able to separate you from other household members, pets or any other potential distractions and try to create plans for counteracting them. Things to keep in mind include:

  • Lighting – You’ll need adequate lighting during your appointment so your provider can see your face as clearly as they could face-to-face. Try not to sit with your back to direct sunlight, and check your webcam to make sure your entire face is illuminated on screen, this may involve bringing in additional lighting.
  • Noise – Your appointment is between your provider and you. Advise others in your home that you will need to be undisturbed for the duration of your appointment. Close the door, close windows, turn off radios, cell phones and televisions. If possible, avoid doing your appointment in rooms where external sounds like doorbells and ringing phones can cause a disturbance.

Mental Preparation

Receiving behavioral health care, no matter your reasons for doing so, is a very personal experience. Like many experiences in life, if you want to get something out of it, you need to be in the mind-set to work hard both in and out of the therapy room.

First things first – Don’t be afraid to say anything in therapy. Talk about work, your family, your internal thoughts and deepest desires. Talk about therapy in therapy! Anything is helpful. Your therapist will work with you to dissect your words and get to the heart of your behavioral health issues.

You can also talk with them and set goals and markers for measurable change. Set boundaries for what is important and what isn’t important to talk about. More than anything enjoy and savor the process. This is your life and every hour is important – especially those hours with your therapist. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to own and be engaged in your own mental wellness.

  1. What am I hoping to accomplish by going to therapy and what are things I want to be different?
  2. What are the things that have happened in my life that have led me to go to therapy?
    • What part have my decisions vs. other people’s decisions played in those happenings?
    • How long have these things been going on for and how has it affected my quality of life?
  3. How am I feeling? How have I been feeling? What emotions have I been experiencing?
    • Are these emotions troubling ones, like nervousness, depression or anxiety?
    • Do my emotions vary depending on what someone says to me? How much do they vary?
  4. What have I done to try to feel better?
    • Have there been things that I’ve done in the past that have made me feel better?
    • Did these things solve or create problems apart from me feeling better?
  5. Is there something specific I want to discuss with my provider? Why do I want to discuss it?