New Patient

This map addresses issues in starting treatment with a new patient. For the most part, although there are normal sequences of actions to take and information to gather, there is at least some flexibility about both the order in which you cover the material and the sessions in which things happen.

It was written by Thad Harshbarger, Ph.D., who also manages ongoing revisions.

One problem with writing a map about starting treatment is that most of the available material on beginning treatment is too general and expects too much from us. People typically begin treatment under pressure to deal with one or more psychological issues, and they want answers. Insisting on a long start-up data-collection phase risks driving patients away.

On the other hand, you can’t just sit down and talk with a new person and see where it goes, because there really are things you must know and do and a general sequence that you need to follow in order to be as effective as possible.

In most cases, the direction that the first session takes is determined both by the patient’s agenda, personality, expectations, etc., and by a therapist’s planning and necessary information-gathering.

Admittedly the sequence shown in this map is too rigid, too pat. But something like this should exist in the back of our minds when meeting a new patient.

Also, some of the steps may be wrong, or in the wrong sequence. The writing is rough and doubtless has many errors. I am experimenting with a flow chart that shows parallel paths, to be followed simultaneously. Is that confusing? In getting this out, I am counting on help from other professionals.

That’s what the bulletin boards are for. Please help make this a better fit to the steps we need to take in beginning treatment by making some useful suggestions.

Additional references would also be helpful, especially if they are very specific.

You can start looking at the map by clicking on Map 1 in the navigation bar. If you have a particular patient in mind, think of him/her as you go through the flow chart. Whenever you have a question about one of the boxes on the map, refer to the associated section of text by clicking on it in the drop-down menu associated with the map.