The First Kiss: Undoing The Intake Model and Igniting Engagement From the First Session in Psychotherapy


Many clients take the first step to see a psychotherapist and do not return after the first session. Why do people disengage so early, when we have so much to offer? One of the key reasons is that we are too focused on conducting an Intake instead of finding a way to Give.

We have to find ways to deepen the engagement with our clients right from the first session of therapy.

The First Kiss is specifically for the discerning psychotherapist who is willing to challenge the status quo of our profession in the way we conduct our first sessions.

At the forefront of coaching psychotherapists and agencies in their professional development, psychologist and trainer Daryl Chow, MA, Ph.D. (Psych) provides compelling applicable ways to increase your impact, so as to reduce dropouts and achieve better outcomes.

By following the concepts in this book, you will also develop a perennial framework to sustain your lifelong development plan in improving your first sessions and beyond.

Ebook for Kindle and other formats (epub, pdf) on sale now.

Paperback is NOW AVAILABLE from Amazon and Book Depository!  

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If you are ordering for an organisation of 5 or more, an automatic discount is calculated for you at 23%. If you purchase for 10 or more licenses, you will receive a 30% discount. (Note: Each download is meant for the license of 1 reader).


“This book shows us what we have been doing wrong and more importantly, what we should be doing differently. Throw out the traditional assessment of psychopathology and engage the client with the fervor that is necessary to form an alliance that provides the scaffolding for therapy to work. From the very first minute, focus on the client and their suffering and don’t hide behind the sterile clinical approach of traditional history taking and clinical diagnoses.

The First Kiss walks the talk—you will be engaged from the very first moment of picking up the book!”

Bruce E. Wampold, Ph.D., Author of the Great Psychotherapy Debate, Director, Research Institute, Modum Bad Psychiatric Center, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin

“Daryl Chow is a leading researcher on using Deliberate Practice to improve clinical effectiveness. In this book, he provides practical guidance on one of the most important and challenging moments in therapy: your first encounter with your clients. Clearly organized in sequential steps, Daryl Chow shows us how to get past the sacred but ineffective “intake session” and instead discover how to truly connect with our clients. The text is research-based as well as grounded in his honest and courageous self-disclosure. 

This book is highly recommended for all therapists, from trainees to experienced clinicians who want to improve their effectiveness.” 

Tony Rousmaniere, PsyD, Author of Deliberate Practice for Psychotherapists.

“Daryl Chow has finally written The Book I’ve wanted every therapist to read for years. …With an ease and generosity that make the reader feel like they’re chatting over coffee with Daryl rather than reading words on a page, Dr. Chow welcomes us into his world as a creative and erudite scholar-practitioner. Once there, we experience what becomes possible when we become relationally responsive to people rather than rigidly robotic with intake procedures. This book should become dog-eared, papered with post-its, and full of multi-colored highlighting.   

Julie Tilsen, Ph.D., Author of Therapeutic Conversations with Queer Youth: Transcending Homonormativity and Constructing Preferred Identities and Narrative Approaches to Youth Work: Conversational Skills for a Critical Practice

Daryl Chow, MA, Ph.D. (Psych) is a practicing psychologist and trainer. He is a senior associate of the International Center for Clinical Excellence (ICCE). He devotes his time to workshops, consultations and researches on the development of expertise and highly effective psychotherapists, helping practitioners to accelerate learning and improve client outcomes.

Based on his doctoral research on the role of deliberate practice in cultivating superior performance in psychotherapy, Daryl and colleagues’ 2015 peer-reviewed article was nominated the “Most Valuable Paper” by the American Psychological Association (APA). His work is featured in two chapters of two edited books in 2017, Cycle of Excellence: Using Deliberate Practice to Improve Supervision and Training, and Feedback-Informed Treatment in Clinical Practice: Reaching for Excellence. He is the author of several articles, a contributor to edited books, and the co-editor of The Write to Recovery: Personal Stories & Lessons about Recovery from Mental Health Concerns (now available to you for free!). He is also the co-author of a forthcoming book, Better Results: Using Deliberate Practice to Improve Therapeutic Effectiveness (APA, Miller , Hubble & Chow, 2020).

Daryl’s blog, Frontiers of Psychotherapist Development, is aimed at inspiring and sustaining practitioner’s individualised professional development.

Currently, Daryl maintains a private practice with a vibrant team at Henry Street Centre, Fremantle, and continues to serve as a senior psychologist at the Institute of Mental Health, Singapore. In a previous life, he was a youth worker. He lives in Western Australia with his wife and two kids. He continues to obsess about the craft of psychotherapy and music. For more information, visit

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