Its normal to wonder what you are about to get yourself into. Making that first step to have counselling can be a very brave move to make. Nerves, anxiety, fear, excitement, hope and many other feelings might be floating around. What will my counsellor be like? Will they understand how I'm feeling?
During the first session, the counsellor will want to know some things about you, They will be looking at what your needs might be and ensuring they have the relevant skills and experience to work alongside you, whilst making sure they can put your welfare first.
Also, do you like them? Do you feel that you can spend several sessions with them and be able to trust them with your personal problems? You may not be able to answer this straight away, but trust your instincts.
Good therapy is all about the relationship you build with your counsellor. It is not unusual for a counsellor to feel that their skills don’t match your needs, therefore the counsellor may recognise a need to refer you to another counsellor who has more experience in the field you require.
Ultimately your safety and welfare is the counsellors top priority.
During the first session, the counsellor will be interested in finding out about your story, perhaps looking at what has brought you to counselling at this specific moment in your life. They will also be interested in what you expect from coming to counselling.
Being realistic about any expectations. Counselling will require a commitment and strength from you. Having the counsellor to accompany you at this time means that you are no longer alone in looking at what has brought you to counselling.
There may be some paperwork to fill out (by the Counsellor). Some counsellors make notes during the session others don’t. Generally there will be an agreement to read, which lays out clearly the boundaries of the therapeutic relationship. This will include things like confidentiality and its exceptions, time boundaries, what to do if you can’t attend a session.
The counselling agreement doesn’t mean you are contracted to carry on with counselling, you are free to leave at any time. If you do start to feel that perhaps this is the wrong time for you and counselling, or perhaps you might like to try a different counsellor, it can be really beneficial to talk to your counsellor about how you are feeling.
Ask questions. What do you want to know from your counsellor? Is it important for you to know how your counsellor works? What will your counsellor expect from you? Does your idea of counselling match up with how the counsellor works?
The more you explore together the better the chances of having a good therapeutic relationship. Feel free to ask your counsellor anything.
The therapeutic relationship is one that is very different to any other relationship, and your counsellor will be able to explain that in more detail if you would like them to.
Counselling can be a really exciting way of going on a journey of self discovery, it can also be hard work, emotional and challenging. Most importantly for you, life changing for the better.