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What to Expect

What to Expect When Seeing a Therapist

Deciding to talk with a therapist can sometimes be the hardest part of beginning therapy. After you speak with Brook Lane’s Admissions Department and schedule your first appointment, you may realize even more questions arise. Here is what to expect when coming to your first outpatient therapy appointment.

When you arrive, you will check in at the front desk. The admissions specialist may ask to photocopy your insurance card and identification, so bring those along. You will be asked to complete paperwork related to payment for services, HIPPA, appointment policies and other consent forms. This is a good time to ask general questions about office policies or payment options. You then will have a seat in the waiting room.

Your initial appointment will be different than future appointments and perhaps feel more like a doctor’s appointment. You will meet with a therapist who will complete your evaluation. They will ask a set of standardized questions and get a snapshot of who you are, what brings you to therapy, your symptoms and your history. This conversation generally lasts about one hour. You do not have to discuss anything you are uncomfortable sharing. Therapy works best when you are open and honest, but we understand you need to feel a connection and sense of trust before sharing.

After the evaluation, we will schedule your next appointment. This is a time to consider your schedule and express any preferences you might have about the therapist you see for your follow up appointments because the therapist who completed your evaluation may not be who you see for follow ups. We will work with you to ensure your therapist accepts your insurance, can accommodate your schedule and attends to your preferences.

After appointments with a therapist, you might feel a sense of relief to finally get the things bothering you off your chest. Or, you might feel other powerful emotions from openly discussing issues you do not often talk about. Most often, people will feel a sense of relief and look forward to making progress in therapy, but everyone’s experience is different. Take some time for self-care after your appointment and congratulate yourself on moving one step closer to a healthier you.

Differences Among our Mental Health Professionals

When you begin your journey to better mental health, you may see one or more of the different kinds of clinicians below. We know it can be overwhleming at first - so we have compiled information about each of them to help you understand the roles they play on your path to hope, healing and recovery.  

Psychotherapist is a broad term used to describe a variety of mental health professionals/counselors that work with clients to help them to build skills to better manage emotional and behavioral issues that are impacting their lives. Psychotherapists include licensed clinical social workers, licensed clinical professional counselors and psychologists. Typically, psychotherapists are not licensed to prescribe medications and often work in conjunction with psychiatrists and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW-C) is a counselor with a masters degree in social work with a specialization in clinical practice. An LCSW-C is not licensed to prescribe medication.

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) is a counselor with a masters degree in psychology, counseling or a related field. An LCPC is not licensed to prescribe medication.

Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor (CADAC) is a counselor with specific clinical training in alcohol and drug abuse. Trained to diagnose and provide individual and group counseling. A CADAC is not licensed to prescribe medication.

Pastoral Counselor is a member of the clergy that provides confidential, professional services for individuals, couples, and families in a spiritual, faith-oriented setting while integrating the methods of behavioral sciences. A pastoral counselor is not licensed to prescribe medication.

Psychologists hold a doctoral degree in psychology (PsyD) or philosophy (PhD). They specialize in the science of emotions, thoughts and behaviors. In the state of Maryland, psychologists do not prescribe medication.

Nurse Practitioner is a registered nurse who has earned a graduate or doctorate degree in the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional illnesses. Depending on their training they may be a Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner (CRNP) or a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP). A doctorate level nurse practitioner holds a Doctorate of Nurse Practice (DNP). Nurse practitioners  may prescribe medication.

Psychiatrist is a doctor of medicine (MD) or of osteopathic medicine (DO) who is devoted to the diagnosis, prevention, treatment and study of mental health disorders. Psychiatrists evaluate patients to determine if their symptoms may be caused by a physical illness, combination of physical and mental health illness or specifically psychiatric in nature. Psychiatrists may prescribe medication.