While everyone will end up at a different destination, the process all starts at the same place: the first appointment.
On your first visit:
Give yourself enough time to find the office so that you will not feel rushed or lose time at the initial meeting.
Have realistic expectations. Therapy is a process, and while some people may report feeling "better" after one or two sessions, the goal of the process is to help you create positive changes in your life and to do this effectively takes time and practice.
The first session typically consists of collecting your relevant background and history as well as reviewing the goals and expectations of treatment. All clients will sign a contract delineating expectations of each party in the therapeutic process. This will also include financial expectations and responsibilities.
Ask questions! This is your time and your life. You should feel comfortable with the therapist you choose. My process is transparent, I encourage individuals to question any aspect of the therapy process that they are unsure of or want to understand better.
If you are bringing your child or adolescent in for therapy, I encourage parents to participate in the intake session and be prepared to participate more as therapy progresses. Parental perspectives are important in working with children as they provide the boundaries within which their child experiences the world. I have learned that successful work with children includes work with their parents.