If you’ve never been to see a counsellor or psychologist before, it can be quite a scary thought.
We’re all familiar with the stereotype of somebody lying on a couch, and being asked: Tell me about your mother!
But is this really what it’s like?
And who should seek out counselling?
Counselling can be valuable if:
- you have a need or an issue which you feel that you can’t resolve;
- you feel like you are having the same problems in your relationship/s;
- you feel that nobody seems to understand, or just very alone;
- you are going through a difficult time;
- you are at a crossroads in your life and don’t know which way to turn.
In your first counselling session, you can expect to discuss what has brought you to this point, your medical and other background information. This discussion is confidential and non-judgemental – you are invited to be open and honest.
It will be an opportunity to see if you feel you can develop a good rapport with the counsellor, and if they can help you with what you want to achieve.
If you decide to proceed, together you and your counsellor will draw up some ground rules, a treatment plan, and a crisis plan (if you feel it is required).
Remember, counselling is a team effort. If you don’t take an active part in the session, you won’t find the counselling experience valuable. Here are some things you can do to make your first session as successful as possible.
- Be open. Therapists are trained to ask the right questions, but they’re not mind readers. The therapist can do their job more effectively, if you answer the questions openly and honestly.
- Be prepared. Before you get to the session, know how to describe “What’s wrong,” and to describe your feelings about your problem. One way to prepare is to write down the reasons you’re seeking help. Make a list and then read it out loud. Hearing yourself say it a few times will help you describe things more clearly to the therapist.
- Ask questions. The more you understand the counselling experience or how counselling works, the more comfortable you’ll be. Ask questions about the therapy process, and ask the therapist to repeat anything you don’t understand.
- Be open and honest about your feelings. A lot will be going through your head in this first session. Listen to your own reactions and feelings, and share them with the therapist. You will not receive ANY judgement but will be treated with respect and your own space to discuss what you feel is important. You’ll both learn from these insights.
- Be sure to go to your first session with realistic expectations. Therapy is not a quick fix – it is more of a working progress. With some effort on your part and a strong relationship with your therapist, it can be a successful tool toward resolving problems.
Author: M1 Psychology
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