Devon Lawrence, LCSW

Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Arlington, Virginia

Your First Visit

How does therapy help?

There are many potential benefits to therapy. If you are seeking treatment for a mental illness, therapy can help you better manage your symptoms, triggers and relapses. It can also offer you increased coping skills and open your eyes to new ways of dealing with situations. Therapy can offer problem-solving skills, provide support, and help you work through life changes, allowing you to see your circumstances as a personal growth opportunity instead of as a burden or obstacle.

Some specific skills therapy can provide are:

  • Emotional management, including, but not limited to anger, jealousy, grief, and depression.
  • Coping mechanisms to allow you to work through situations which typically cause you anxiety, fear, or avoidance.
  • Stress-management techniques to deal with stress within your everyday life, such as with your job and family.
  • Skills and techniques to help you better navigate relationships, or to work through relationship troubles.
  • Problem solving skills for you to enact when you encounter issues which may typically have caused you to shy away or back down, such as social situations or public speaking.
  • Improving self-love, self-confidence, and body image.
  • Improving communication, listening, and the ability to speak up for yourself.
  • Understanding your own skills, strengths, and positive attributes and learning to quiet your inner critic.
  • Finding a resolution to the issues that originally led you to therapy, such as having panic attacks, or being unable to sleep.

While the decision to begin therapy is an individual choice, there are a wide variety of valid reasons to begin therapy ranging from having a diagnosed mental illness to getting help managing daily stress or a transitional period of your life.

What to expect on your first visit

Your first therapy session has two main goals:

1. Assess your circumstances

My highest priority as a therapist is to create safe space for you, so you will feel comfortable talking about what brings you to therapy and what you hope to gain from the therapeutic process. We will then be able to better determine what type of therapy is right for you, what types of interventions will be most likely to help, and the work you will be expected to do as part of the therapeutic process, such as practicing specific techniques, or reading articles or other reading material, as it is important that you take an active role in this process.

2. Build a relationship

Our first session will also provide an opportunity for both of us to get to know each other better. I will ask you questions to help me better understand you and your concerns. You are also welcome to ask me questions. In order for therapy to be successful, it is imperative we establish a client/therapist relationship that is supportive and honest. In fact, this therapeutic relationship is the most accurate predictor of a positive, healthy outcome. In therapy you can expect the following:

  • You can expect to be provided a safe, supportive and confidential space.
  • You can expect to be treated with compassion, empathy, respect, dignity and understanding.
  • You can expect me, as your therapist, to listen to you and your interpretation of what you are currently experiencing.
  • You can expect to receive scientifically backed tools, techniques, practices and information to assist you in addressing your issues and making positive changes in your life.

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



Is therapy confidential?

As a general rule, all therapy sessions are confidential and anything you discuss with your therapist will remain between the two of you, unless you request otherwise. As required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), no protected information can be disclosed without prior written consent from the client.

There are exceptions to this law however, and the therapist can disclose information to legal authorities or duly appointed persons if any of the following are true:

  • The therapist suspects abuse to a child, dependent adult, or an elderly person, or are made aware of domestic abuse. These situations all require the therapist to notify law enforcement or the appropriate protective agencies immediately.
  • The therapist suspects an individual has caused, or is threatening to cause serious bodily harm to another person. In such a case, the therapist is required to report it to law enforcement.
  • A client expresses suicidal plans and intent. While the therapist will attempt to work through this in the therapy session, if it appears to be unresolved or the client does not cooperate with crisis planning and contracting for safety, additional action may be required to ensure the safety of the client.

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