Our first session is very important. It will help us develop a useful and understandable view of your difficulties and goals. We won't get "all the answers" at the end of our first visit, however, its reasonable for you to leave with a feeling that I understand you and your concerns and have provided some understandable ideas on how we would work together and what I would do for you.
I can also explain how to know if you're making reasonable progress toward your goals. There are a variety of things that can be done in this regard. You shouldn't have to wonder or be in doubt about whether you're making progress. Its fine to ask at any time if therapy is helping. No therapist should be offended by this question or vague in their response.
Change happens both within and outside my office. I can explain what you can do within our sessions and between appointments to make progress.
If you are coming for individual therapy I'd recommend our initial meeting be 60 minutes with 5 to 10 minutes to fill out registration information, instead of the usual 45-50 minute session which can feel a bit rushed for our first get together. 60 minutes will give us plenty of time for information gathering, and to both understand your concerns and for me to explain how I might work with them
If you are coming for couples counseling I'd also recommend an initial visit of 60 minutes for the same reasons. However, its usually best to have an hour and fifteen minutes for the regular weekly meetings. I typically meet with both partners on the first visit. Its also very helpful for me to meet at least once with each partner individually.
This allows me to see what each person is like without the other present. This is optional but can be very useful.