Here’s the Deal on the First Session

Pre-Intake Questionnaire

In order to prepare yourself for your first counselling session, you might think about the following questions, even jot a few notes to bring along:


  1. What’s the main reason you came today? (eg; depression, anxiety, relationship problems, family concerns, sexual issues, drug/alcohol use, panic, trauma, disordered eating, body image, school/work problems, hallucinations, self-harm or suicidal thoughts etc.)
  2. How long has this been a problem (be as specific as possible)? Is there anything that seemed to have started it?
  3. What has helped? What has made it worse?


  1. Do you have any general health problems? Have you had a check-up recently? Are you on any medications?
  2. Who lives with you? How do you get along?
  3. Has anyone in your family had a similar mental health problem (eg; any genetic link)?
  4. Are they getting help? What has helped them? What’s made it worse?
  5. Do you go to school or work? What are you studying/what type of work are you doing? How are school and/or work going?
  6. Do you have any hobbies? Recreational activities? What do you like to do?
  7. How’s your financial situation? Do you have financial support?
  8. What kind of transportation do you use? How easy is it for you to get here?
  9. How many friends do you have? Do you have a best friend? Who’s your main “support person” in life? Who would you turn to if you really needed someone?
  10. What kind of drugs/alcohol have you used in the past? How frequently? Does it interfere with your school? Work? Relationships?


  1. Are you interested in coming regularly for help?
  2. How often could you come?
  3. Is there any specific kind of help you’d like?
  4. Would you be interested in a group?

Before you leave, you might want to ask your counsellor/therapist what they think the problem may be, and what they would do to help you. You could also ask them who they will be sharing your info with.

If you don’t feel comfortable the first time, remember that you might feel better the next time you go. If you’re sure you didn’t have a good connection with the interviewer, ask to see someone else. Remember, you may not like the first person you meet, but that doesn’t mean it’s a lost cause. Eventually, you’ll meet someone you can work with. Just keep trying!

Information provided by thanks Dr. Margaret DeCorte, Ph. D., C. Psych. and her youth crew at Royal Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa, ON