If you’re thinking about booking in a counselling session it can feel a bit daunting, there may be a tinge on excitement but anxiety and apprehension and likely to be the overriding feelings. I thought this might help a little bit with any queries you have about what the first session might look like. Of course, it will be different for each counsellor/client but there will be some general points the same.
Most counsellors offer a introductory consultation but this will, most likely, have been an informal chat with some questions to ensure the counsellor is competent to cover the client’s issues, to see if the counsellor works in the way the client would like, to cover practical bits about location/cost etc and generally to see if the counsellor and client will make a good fit.
It’s important to know the practical information before the first session with regards to working face to face or online etc. The counsellor should make sure you have all the details you need before the session.
There will be a contract or working agreement to discuss in the first formal session. Most counsellors will send this to you before the first session. Please don’t feel overwhelmed or worried by this; it’s to help both counsellor and client have a clear understanding of the boundaries so their work together is safe and secure. If there’s anything you don’t understand or any questions you have, it’s really important you ask them before signing it—I’m happy to work flexibly with my contract if clients want bits altered. For example the type of contact each client needs between sessions is different.
Getting to know you
As a person-centred counsellor, I do not direct the counselling sessions, however, I explain that the first session needs to be a bit more of “get to know you” session. It’s hard to tackle you specific issues without a bit of context so in the initial session I start with an open question along the lines of “what brought you to counselling at this time at this point in your life?”
There’ll be lots of space for you to talk freely about whatever you feel is relevant. It’s up to you if you want to prepare for this session or if you want to just see what comes to your mind in the moment. In this first session, the counsellor is likely to ask you some direct questions as they’re trying to build up a picture of you. There’s no diagnostic tests or judgments occurring as that’s not a counsellors role.
At the end of the first session you need to think about whether you’d like to continue with this counsellor. You should never feel pressured into booking another appointment. Sometimes counselling itself will be difficult but the counsellor-client relationship is important, you need to feel comfortable and safe, there needs to be a level of trust in order for there to be a working alliance.
How will it feel?
You may feel a huge sense of relief having got a lot off your chest. You might also feel quite vulnerable having told, someone who’d previously been a complete stranger, a lot of revealing information. In this case, it’s important to be kind to yourself after the session. Have some self care planned such as a short walk or some time doing your favourite hobby.
If you’re interested in discussing counselling sessions with me, please do get in touch using me contact page.