1. It is helpful for the client to call the therapist directly prior to the evaluation meeting to have a conversation about what to expect during the evaluation.
2. Encourage your client to be as open and honest as they can during their evaluation. Downplaying the situation will work against them. This is the time to really be honest about emotional pain and hardship. Sometimes cultural factors can play into how comfortable a client feels about sharing their feelings. In these cases it is particularly important to prepare the client for the fact that the evaluator will be asking very personal questions about situations that may be painful to recall.
3. Try to encourage the client to relax. This is not an exam, and there are no right or wrong answers. The meeting can actually often be helpful and cathartic to clients. I have had many clients thank me at the end of our session, feeling relieved to have had someone to listen emphatically to their story.
4. Ask your client to organize their thoughts a prior to the meeting. What is it that they want to make sure to get across? They can even write down some taking points. The interview will be directed by the therapist, but the client needs to make sure they don’t forget any key points.
5. If the client has previously seen a therapist or had any other mental health evaluations, it is helpful to obtain consent for the evaluator to contact the other clinician. If there are any written reports or documentation from another therapist, please have the client bring this along.
6. If the client has written their own statement, this can be useful to the clinician, but is not a necessity.
7. If translation is needed, advise the client to bring along someone they feel very comfortable sharing their most personal thoughts with. The questions in an evaluation are often of a very private nature.
8. Even if translation is not required, it sometimes makes a client feel more comfortable and open to have a close relative, spouse or friend with them for moral support. Even if this person sits in the waiting area, it is sometimes comforting for the client to know that someone they trust is right nearby.