What to expect in your first session?
Updated: Mar 26, 2021
In my previous post I wrote about how the counselling process can be varied and used to approach many different issues from work stress to debilitating past traumas. While counselling is tailored to the individual client and looks very different, the initial session is similar
That is because the initial session has two goals:
Provide you the opportunity to go to the office or try the telehealth platform to make sure it is accessible for you and you feel comfortable with the specific counsellor.
For your therapist gets as much information as possible so they can share their understanding of your challenges and tell you about the general direction of therapy for the following sessions.
It is common for people to wonder if they should tell everything to their counsellor in the first session. The thought that you have to share hidden parts of yourself to a stranger can be a barrier for seeking help. The answer to that question is that you only have to share what you feel comfortable sharing. As you begin to feel more comfortable with them over time, then you can share more of your story.The first session will help you decide if the counsellor's approach and personality will work for you.
Know that if the counsellor asks you any questions you feel uncomfortable with, you can ask them why they asked that question or skip the question entirely. The best way to prepare for these questions is to reflect on what potential questions will be asked, and answer as honestly as you can. Some questions that might be asked are:
What brought you to counselling?
Have you been to counselling before? If so, what where some benefits and was there anything that was not helpful?
Is there a specific challenge or roadblock you would like to start with?
Do you have any goals for counselling (ie. Managing racing thoughts more effectively, learning how to communicate in a more healthy way, learning techniques to fight procrastination, depression management, etc..)
What do you want to get out of counselling? How would you know you are improving?
What do you want your life to look like when you are done with counselling?
If you do not have an answer to every question that is okay, knowing the general reason you are looking for counselling will help you feel ready for the first conversation with your counsellor. To feel more comfortable with your counsellor, it is encouraged to ask them any questions you might have, such as:
Do you have experience working with clients who have had similar concerns?
How many sessions are expected to be needed? How frequently would the therapist suggest sessions, and what is the general length?
What is your education and registration? (Note: This is important if you are planning to have sessions reimbursed by your extended health benefits)
Preparing yourself for what questions may be asked and having a few questions to ask your counsellor might help you feel more confident for your first session. Know that this first session does not commit you to working with a particular counsellor. It is important to find a good fit, and if you do not feel comfortable with them you can continue looking or ask them for a referral if you believe their experience does not match what you want to work on or their availability does not work with your schedule.
I hoped this helped to prepare you for your first session, if you have any further questions or would like to schedule a session with myself feel free to send me an email or book online.