What to expect on your first visit?

Your first therapy session has two main goals:

1. Intake evaluation

Your first meeting includes an initial evaluation to assess your current life situation. We will assess your reasons for seeking therapy and discuss if my areas of expertise and approach to therapy align with your current needs and view of the therapeutic process. We will then be able to make an informed decision regarding the type of therapy that is right for you, what it consists of, and how it will fit into your everyday life. In addition, you can expect that I will provide you with activities and actions to practice outside of our therapy sessions, such as engaging in specific techniques, reading specific books, and completing worksheets. While it will never be required that you participate in the out of session suggestions, it is important that you take an active role in your healing and it will be important to explore why you are not participating outside of therapy sessions.

2. Developing a therapeutic alliance

Our first session is an opportunity for us to get to know each other and determine if our client/therapist relationship is a good fit. I will ask you questions to help me better understand your primary issues and concerns, as well as your history in terms of other events in your life, family, childhood, and career. However, you are also welcome to ask questions related to my specialization, practice, therapeutic approach, and education. It is important that we establish a positive therapeutic alliance that is supportive and honest in order for therapy to be successful. In fact, research suggests that it is the therapeutic relationship that is key to positive outcomes in therapy, more so than the intervention/therapeutic approach offered. As such, my work with clients is individualized and unique to each client situation; however, specific values and themes are true for all sessions, and you can expect the following:

  • You can expect to be treated with compassion, empathy, respect, and understanding.
  • You can expect to be presented with someone who is available to listen to you in a nonjudgmental way and listen to your interpretation of what you are currently experiencing.
  • You can expect to receive knowledgeable and evidence based techniques and information regarding your reasons for attending therapy.
  • You can expect to arrive in a safe, supportive, nonjudgmental, and confidential space.
  • You can expect to receive real strategies and techniques you can use to enact positive changes on your life.

The therapeutic process

Psychotherapy can be a powerful and effective tool in providing you with the necessary support and training to overcome the challenges you face. Participation in therapy can result in a number of benefits to you, including improving interpersonal relationships and resolution of the specific concerns that led you to seek therapy. Working toward these benefits; however, requires effort on your part. Psychotherapy requires your very active involvement, honesty, and openness in order to change your thoughts, feelings and/or behavior. Providing feedback to your clinician regarding what is working and what isn’t is an essential part of the therapeutic process.

Psychotherapy can also have risks. During evaluation or therapy, remembering or talking about unpleasant events, feelings, or thoughts can result in your experiencing considerable discomfort or strong feelings of anger, sadness, worry, fear, etc. or experiencing anxiety, depression, insomnia, etc. Some of your assumptions or perceptions may be challenged or a proposal of different ways of looking at, thinking about, or handling situations can cause you to feel very upset, angry, depressed, challenged, or disappointed. Attempting to resolve issues that brought you to therapy in the first place, such as personal or interpersonal relationships, may result in changes that were not originally intended. Psychotherapy may result in decisions about changing behaviors, employment, substance use, schooling, housing, or relationships.  Sometimes a decision that is positive for one family member is viewed quite negatively by another family member.  Change will sometimes be easy and swift, but more often it will be slow and, at times, frustrating.  There is no guarantee that psychotherapy will yield positive or intended results.

As an experienced psychologist, it is my honor to assist you in exploring your current life challenges and any difficult emotions you may be experiencing with a goal of guiding you toward a more meaningful, purpose-driven, and fulfilling life. Utilizing a variety of approaches including Cognitive/Cognitive-Behavioral, Compassion Focus Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Existential/Humanistic, Gestalt, Integrative, Narrative, Person-Centered, Psychoeducational, Relational Psychotherapy and Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, I will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is individualized to your unique needs.

With honesty and compassion I will work with you to create a treatment plan that empowers you to take charge of your life and find a renewed sense of purpose on your current journey. We will work together to identify areas in your life where you would like to see change and, drawing upon skill building tools and techniques, such as self-compassion, you will learn how to embrace both the ups and downs of life and be better able to navigate any future difficulties with ease and grace, leading to a happier and healthier life.

“In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.”

– Tony Robbins

Some specific skills therapy can provide are:

  • Emotional management
  • Coping strategies
  • Stress-management techniques
  • Skills and techniques to help you better navigate relationships
  • Life skills for problem solving difficult situations
  • Improving self-love, self-confidence, self-esteem, and body image
  • Improving communication, listening, and the ability to speak up for yourself
  • Understanding your own skills, strengths, and positive attributes
  • Learning how to shift away from negative thinking and reduce negative self-talk
  • Finding a resolution to the issues that originally led you to therapy

While choosing to attend therapy is a personal decision, it is my belief that everyone can benefit from therapy.

I look forward to getting to know you and helping you reach your therapy goals.

Please complete the following forms prior to your first therapy session.

Is therapy confidential?

In general, the privacy of all communications between a patient and a psychologist is protected by law, and I can only release information about our work to others with your written permission.  Most of the provisions explaining when the law requires disclosure were described in the Notice of Privacy Practices that you received with this form. However, it is important to understand exceptions to confidentiality.

When Disclosure Is Required By Law: Some of the circumstances where disclosure is required by the law are: where there is a reasonable suspicion of child, dependent or elder, abuse or neglect; and where a client presents a danger to self, to others, to property, or is gravely disabled (for more details see also Notice of Privacy Practices form). If I believe that a patient is threatening serious bodily harm to another, I am required to take protective actions.  These actions may include notifying the potential victim, contacting the police, or seeking hospitalization for the patient.  If the patient threatens to harm themself, I may be obligated to seek hospitalization for them or to contact family members or others who can help provide protection.  If a similar situation occurs in the course of our work together, I will attempt to fully discuss it with you before taking any action.

When Disclosure May Be Required: Disclosure may be required pursuant to a legal proceeding. If you place your mental status at issue in litigation initiated by you, the defendant may have the right to obtain the psychotherapy records and/or testimony by Dr. McArn. In group, couple and family therapy, or when different family members are seen individually, confidentiality and privilege do not apply between the couple or among group and family members. I will use my clinical judgment when revealing such information. I will not release records to any outside party unless I am authorized to do so by all adult family members who were part of the treatment.