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Psychotherapist - standard practice(21 Posts)
i had booked an initial consultation with a psychotherapist - we had emailed and spoke on the phone, and he said he would email out information before our first meeting.
I received that today and it has surprised me. One is a form for standarddetails but also wants names, and ages of parents and siblings. The second form is a series of very personal questions relating to childhood eg what sort of child was I, what was my birth story and how does that affect who I am today; how dis my parents display their emotions; what were their expectations of me etc. I realise this must be all standard fare while a patient goes through treatment. My concern is that he asks me to bring these completed forms to the very first session, before we've met and before I've had the opportunity to decide whether I trust him enough to reveal personal matters.
The bottom line is I'll be cancelling the appointment, I feel he has pushed a boundary too far too soon and have no wish now to engage with him - with or without completed forms. I think it is interesting he doesn't provide the option of not filling the forms in (I realise that is an option, I'd just like him to say so) and there is nothing in all the info he has sent to say "this is how I will look after your information and these are the circs when I may have to share it"
Anyway is it the norm to seemingly require all that info before a meeting? Is it unusual or nOt from other people's experiences?
And when I cancel should I bother to explain why? I've no desire for him to attempt to persuade me out of my decision.
I'm sorry to hear this has upset you, but yes, it is standard practice. Psychotherapy is very hard work but it's so, so worth it.
I think you should call and discuss. The info will be confidential in the same way anything else in therapy is.
Thank you, that's interesting MrsL. I quite get that these are issues that could come up during sessions, I'd also understand if he sent a list of topics/qns that I might want to think about beforehand. It's the getting me to write the answers down and give to him before I've even met him that doesn't sit comfortably.
I think this has made me realise that psychotherapy isn't right for me at this time, so good to find out sooner rather than later.
Thank you Munch as well for replying - saw your reply after my last post.
Just reread the questions - one is "how and when will you die?" what the ...?
Just a thought, do you think he"ll have tailored this set of questions for me, or do they each have a standard list they're likely to send to everyone?
I have had long-term psychotherapy on the NHS and the way it worked was that I had an assessment with a senior therapist, who asked those sorts of questions in a face-to-face interview and wrote up a report about it. After a waiting period, I was then allocated a therapist who had access to those notes, but I never discussed those issues directly with her.
I can understand your discomfort and your reasons for backing off. But I come from an experience where I don't feel that psychotherapy was actually appropriate for me, and I feel that some of the answers I gave (when I was very naive and wanted 'the experts' to work out what was wrong with me) were leapt on as reasons for my behaviour, to the exclusion of other factors in my life/health (which I now understand to be far more relevant).
I think that whatever you write in that sort of questionnaire, a psychotherapist will end up focusing on aspects of it and decide that they are the reasons for your mental health issues/behaviour. Obviously those who have had positive experiences of psychotherapy will find that's a revelation. Psychotherapy isn't for everyone, and if you choose to seek other forms of treatment, that's perfectly valid. It sounds like you have some doubts, and I'd urge you to listen to your instincts.
I didn't get asked about how and when I'd die though!
There has no standard form as far as I'm aware. I had a years psychotherapy through the nhs minus the forms.
I did have a 1.5hr consult which went through the type if child I was etc and I did complete a family history form.
I would call and discuss it before ruling it out all together.
I have had psychotherapy both on the NHS and privately and in neither case was I asked to provide anything in writing beforehand. In the case of the NHS I had already had some interviews with psychiatrists who obviously asked some of those sort of questions but the psychotherapist was open minded in following those things up.
The private psychotherapist only asked for basic contact details before meeting me. I had an initial session (at a reduced price) in which we explored some of my burning issues and he then asked if I thought we could work together.
If anyone had asked me to fill in a questionnaire like you described, I would have run away screaming.
I would say don't give up if you think psychotherapy could help. Try someone else who may well have a completely different approach. A lot of psychotherapy's effectiveness is down to how well you gel with the therapist.
Not every psychotherapist will ask for this - mine wouldnt have dreamt of it, I'm sure! All that stuff you discover as the sessions go along, surely. It sounds kind of clumsy. But saying that, I wouldn't necessarily let it put you off - pt can be extremely helpful even if it begins rather awkwardly.
You sound a little as though you are looking for reasons not to go into psychotherapy. Could that be true? It is very scary, and I felt similarly as though I was looking for a get out clause before I started (so glad I stuck with it though).
If you do want to do it, perhaps don't complete the form but go along anyway and take the form with you. You could then talk about why you didn't feel comfortable answering the very personal questions. I'm sure you won't be the first client to do this.
just curious - is this a private or nhs psychotherapist? How did you find him - was he recommended by a friend, etc.
My first thought is that it will save time to give him this information up front, but maybe you want to meet first and see if he is someone you think you could/would like to work with.
BTW, nothing wrong with saying you are uncomfortable with the forms/questions and would prefer to wait to answer until after you've met.
I had psychotherapy - and I revealed these things along the way. But I can understand why you don't want to just fill them out as bald facts on a form. I would want to be there to 'check' that their reactions to the facts were correct. I know my psychotherapist over reacted to the fact that my brothers had gone to public schools and I had not. There were sensible practical reasons for this and I assured that this was NOT the root of my self -esteem issues, so, although I don't think she fully believed me, I was glad I was able to at least pipe up and say 'no, let that bone go' ykwim?! If it had been on a form, she might have run too far and too fast with that little 'gem'.
Have you asked to actually hand the forms over? Is it possible that he is just getting you to think things over before you go?
I wouldn't want to do it in writing either and have had 25 sessions of NHS therapy this year so no fears about psychotherapy per se. It is a lot to put in writing without it being face to face and could be very distressing without a supportive person to demonstrate their unconditional acceptance. I'd question the relevance of the bald information. It is often more about how we tell our story rather than the story itself that brings us to therapy and I would have thought it is part of building rapport to discuss these things. I don't write as I speak. Odd it is considered standard practice.
I agree Jenny505. It is hardly an exact science and everyone brings their own prejudices.
Thankyou for your replies everyone. I've emailed the guy and explained why I've decided not to proceed with the appointment. One of the things I've always read about picking a counsellor is listening o your own feelings and not being obliged to stick with someone if you don't feel comfortable. His expectation that I will give up lots of my background/feelings makes me very uncomfortable.
In answer to various Qns up-thread, I found him on the net and via a reputable site - his practice appears to be reputable and established - but just not for me. I've had counselling before, a number of times over 25 years but never a full-blown psychotherapist. I did get offered it once on the NHS but moved after the initial assessment so didn't have any further sessions.
I've decided I'm going to GP this week to discuss possibility of ADs or HRT, and take things from there. My decision-making ability is pretty screwed at the moment, but I'm coming to the view thT T this stage in my life (lots of career change stuff going on) that maybe I'd benefit more from a more gentle counselling approach than full-blown psychotherapy.
Thanks again for the replies, which have helped me with thinking Over the situation.
Seeker - maybe, but the inference in the email was that they were to be returned to him.
I'm not so sure this is standard practice. It's more important for a therapist to ask you these questions and observe how you answer them than to get a load of stuff in writing ahead of time. I see a private therapist and, before the first appointment, we only discussed when and where I would see him.
I would find these questions very upsetting and triggering, and would not want to answer them. I would expect a therapist to meet me and build up some trust first.
PLEASE don't let this put you off all therapy! I've never heard anything like it! If you are going private, I suggest having a look on the UKCP site - and if you're keen to build up trust first I'd look for someone with a humanistic/relational approach.
If you're not happy with returning them, then don't. Simple. Take them with you. Or not. Don't make a decision based on this- have a session, then decide.
Seeker, I'm not going to see him and if I did I wasnt going to complete the forms first - my decision entirely but it helped to mull it over here and get the perspective of others. I guess I don't lie him telling me what to do, too much of a shift in the power dynamic before we even met.
Jess, definitely was a triggerand I feel better having given him a reply.
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