It’s natural to wonder what to expect from your first counselling session. The first therapy session is a little bit different. You may be anxious about whether you will have to tell your story or share your darkest secrets straight away with a complete stranger. Every therapist has a different approach, but I work in a client-centred therapeutic approach, which means that if you choose to seek therapy with me, I will be gentle and follow your lead.
I know that taking the first step and booking your first therapy appointment can be daunting and I think it’s really brave!
If you’re starting therapy for the first time
The first therapy session is about seeing if you have a connection with your therapist. It’s perfectly common to feel uncomfortable, but as your counsellor, I’m aware that you may feel nervous during the first appointment and will go at your pace and do my best to help you feel at ease.
I might tell you a little about my academic background if it hasn’t come up already. I’ll also invite you to share what has brought you to therapy and explain the initial paperwork and consent form. I’ll listen to you and help you to figure out your goals for therapy and I’m the right therapist for you.
I’ll also explain my therapeutic style, which is integrative, meaning I use a range of tools depending on the needs of the individual in front of me. I love to share resources if I think they will be useful for your specific goal or may help you better understand what’s going on for you right now.
I’ll explain confidentiality and my professional associations – please use this opportunity to ask any questions you’re unsure about. I won’t mind at all. In fact, I worked hard for my qualifications so I’m happy to share them!
If you’ve been to therapy before
If you’ve already been in therapy with a counsellor who was a good match, you may feel loathe to tell your story to someone new. It can take time to feel comfortable to open up to another therapist and as your counsellor, I will respect that.
As an experienced therapist, I’ve come across this situation before and that trust happens over several sessions. People find that getting to know one another can help them to feel more comfortable as their therapy progresses.
I believe that knowing what to expect during your first therapy session with me can help to ease anxiety about seeking professional support, so I’ve outlined below what typically happens during an online therapy session or a 1:1 face-to-face session.
Online Therapy Session
If our session is online, I’ll start the session at the exact time we agreed. Don’t worry if there’s a hitch with the internet, I will leave the meeting room open and give you a chance to come on. If there seems to be a problem I will contact you.
When you enter the Zoom room, I’ll check that you are in a space where you feel comfortable talking without being distracted or overheard.
Face-to-face session in Churchtown
If possible, give yourself plenty of time to get to the Centre so that you don’t feel flustered. There’s free parking outside and a very comfortable waiting area, so do help yourself to a cup of tea or coffee if you’d like one. There are also toilets on-site if you need to nip to the loo.
I’ll come to the waiting area and meet you. I’ll offer you a glass of water if you haven’t got one already and show you to the room.
I will be mindful that you may be feeling anxious, nervous or maybe even keen to get started and hopeful that therapy will be a turning point in your life. All these feelings are quite common.
The first session is a little bit different, we will have some paperwork to go through together. I’ll invite you to give me a sense of what has been going on for you. You might also have some questions you want to ask me about therapy. I’ll tell you a bit about the type of therapy I offer.
Some common things that can happen in the first session:
Starting therapy can be difficult. I often feel nervous too, the first time I meet a new client! I know that you may be wondering if you have managed to find the right therapist for you. The first session is about taking time getting to know each other, seeing if we’re the right fit and giving you a chance to explore what brought you to therapy.
You might find it difficult to know where to start or run out of things to talk about. It’s okay to take time to gather your thoughts.
You might cry or find it hard to talk. That’s ok, it often happens, I’m used to that and won’t push you. Equally, if there’s something you want to address, I’m there to witness it.
You may have been holding on to what you want to talk about for a long time, so the words may come pouring out. The session may seem to go by very quickly and you might be surprised when I let you know that we are coming near the end.
I will go at your pace and listen carefully to what you choose to share. I won’t push you to talk about past trauma or anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.
If you are quiet, I will give you a chance to think and process.
The end of the first session
As the session winds down, I will you a chance to gather your thoughts. If there’s something that we don’t get a chance to explore, we’ll make a note to talk about it in your next session.
I hope as you return to face the outside world at the end of the session that you’ll feel heard and as though you were listened to. It’s normal to feel a little tired as the first session is often something you’ve had to build up to. It’s a good idea to take some time for yourself after therapy and not to rush headfirst into the next thing on your to-do list. I hope that you will be gentle with yourself and take a little time and space to process.
I hope you’ve found this article helpful in giving you an insight into what to expect from your first therapy session.
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