You’ve identified the issue you’re struggling with √
Come to the conclusion that you do need or want a therapist √
Even figured out a way to pay for your sessions √
Now, let’s talk about what you should expect in your first counseling session!
During your first session, you should definitely expect to be similar to your first appointment with a new medical doctor.
You’ll complete all of the necessary paperwork, such as:
- your intake; now this can be done several ways depending on your counselor’s style- before the session electronically (as I do in my practice), during the session on your own, OR, the counselor might go through and ask you each of the questions);
- consent forms (insurance, disclosure, and treatment);
- HIPAA and Payment Policies.
Counselor will ask you questions about:
- your personal history (i.e. family history, relationship history, employment history, medical history, etc.);
- your current situation (things that you’ve identified as reasons to seek counseling or even, things others have identified as reasons you may need counseling);
- what your current symptoms are (uncontrollable crying, resentment, grief, anger, infidelity, etc.).
These are just some of the things your counselor might ask you. They assist with understanding your presenting problems better. But, remember that this is YOUR session and it’s ALL ABOUT YOU, so as a counselor, I encourage all of my clients to ask me ANY and EVERY question they have to assist in becoming comfortable with this process.
Here are some of the common questions that people ask counselors during their first session:
- Can you explain the process of counseling?
- How often should I come to see you?
- How do I schedule appointments?
- How can you assure my confidentiality?
- What should I expect in my upcoming sessions if I choose to return?
Again, these are just examples of questions that you can and should ask your counselor. Not only do I encourage my clients to ask all they questions they need to, but ask for their complete honesty in seeking counseling. You should also talk about what direction you would like your sessions to go, or what your goals are for the counseling process. Remember, this is your session so WE, the counselors, are expecting you to be ACTIVE participants in your therapy process. Our goal is to help you discover solutions to the difficult situations in your life.
I’m going to end the way that I do most of my initial sessions- with a story:
Every year on New Year’s Day, my grandmother and I would go to Dillard’s infamous New Year’s Day Sale. She would tell me that I could have a pair of shoes (within a reasonable price, of course) that I wanted. So I’d go to the rack, find my size, and begin the PROCESS of elimination. I would put the shoe on and walk around in it, and if it began to hurt my pinky toe, BACK ON THE RACK IT WENT!!! That process continued until I found at least two pairs that I wanted (my grandmother always enabled my shoe fetish and often bought me more than what she initially told me I could get. LOL!!). Once I purchased the shoes and took them home, I started the second part of my process by putting scotch tape on the bottom of my shoes and then, walked around the house in them to test the long term comfort of the shoe. If they began to hurt my precious pinky toe, I then removed the tape and returned the shoe to the store, but if not, then they were keepers- and I STUCK with them.
ALL counselors, therapists, and any other helping professional really are kinda like shoes. There is a process (maybe not as intense as my shoe purchase process) as to how you determine if they’re a good fit for you! You should come in during the first session, try a counselor out, and if you like the way it feels- you come back, but if for some reason you’re uncomfortable or not as open as you thought you would feel- you should DISCONTINUE services (return the shoe) and find another therapist that you can GENUINELY CONNECT. Once the good fit is found, you stick with it. Let your process of healing can begin!
#AspiretoEmpower #MentalHealthMatters #MentalHealthMindset #TherapyIsDope