So, you’ve plucked up courage to make the call and book an appointment. It’s normal to feel a bit anxious about your first visit, particularly if you have never seen a counsellor before. After all, you are about to share some deep feelings with a stranger.
You might feel more comfortable if you take some time before your visit to think about what is troubling you and why you have decided to seek help.
Your counsellor will probably start by asking you a few questions, such as your name and address, the name of your medical practitioner, and if you have any current medical issues. You might also be asked if you have seen a counsellor previously, and will probably be asked to sign a Therapy Agreement, which outlines details about confidentiality, fees and cancellations. You will be given a copy, and the therapist will keep one on file.
Your counsellor will explain the counselling process to you, before starting the session by asking a question such as “what brings you here?”
What Happens in a Session?
Initially, you will take time to get to know each other, and develop a rapport, then you will be gently guided to talk about what is troubling you. The session is yours, and there is no rush to achieve anything. The therapeutic process is a matter between both you and your counsellor.
Over time, as this rapport develops, you will probably feel increasingly comfortable to go more deeply into your experiences, supported by your therapist. Some situations can be difficult to express in words, and you may enjoy using other forms of expression, such as movement, sound, role play, or perhaps drawing.
There is nothing you can’t talk about in therapy. if you feel anxious about this, you can talk to your counsellor about your anxiety. No problem is too big or too small.
Your counsellor’s role is to support you and your therapeutic process, offering a non-judgemental space of safety and trust, where you can feel free to fully express yourself. He or she will not offer to “fix” things for you, but will help you to find your own solutions.
Concluding Your Session
When you have about 10 minutes left, your counsellor will start to “wind up” the session, and offer to review what you have covered. You may be asked for feedback, such as how you felt about the session, and if there is anything else you would like to discuss before you leave. If you are not feeling comfortable, your counsellor would like to know this.
To conclude the session, you will be invited to make another appointment. Your counsellor may suggest more sessions if she feels there is more to work on, but the final decision is up to you.
Generally, you could expect to have 3 to 5 sessions initially, but you may need more to fully unfold a situation. You should be starting to feel better after this, but there are no “quick fixes” in therapy.
Remember, your mental health is just as important to your physical health.