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What to expect in your first session of counselling?

 What to expect in the first counselling session?

This can feel a bit daunting. Particularly the idea of sharing our fears, and deepest worries and secrets with a complete stranger! The fact that the Client is seeking counselling is a positive step which can help the Client discover new ways to move toward a more positive recovery.

The counsellor should be able to help the Client gain a better understanding of their feelings and thought processes and help the client access their own solutions to problems, but they won't usually give advice or tell them what to do.

Counselling sessions are also confidential, so the Client can talk about things they might not feel comfortable discussing with anyone else.

It’s normal to experience anxiety and feel nervous and wonder what the counsellor will be like. Of course, we want to feel comfortable and at ease.

The Counsellor will do an assessment either by phone, email or in person, in which they will discuss how they work and what they can offer the client.

During the assessment, The Client will be asked certain questions about themselves and their life.

Sessions last for 50 minutes and take place in a quiet room with just two of you present. Or online on zoom, in this situation, it is suggested the client finds a quite comfortable space in which they will not be interrupted. At the appointment, the Client will be encouraged to talk about their feelings and emotions without any judgment or criticism.

The counsellor will ask The Client questions that will help them gain a deeper understanding of the issues important to them. This can include:

  • The relationships

  • The Clients Childhood

  • Their emotions thoughts

  • Their behaviour

  • Situations or events they have found difficult

  • What has brought them to counselling at this specific moment in their life

  • Finding out what their goals are for counselling They will be encouraged to be honest about their feelings.

  •  A lot will be going on in their thoughts in the first session and can even feel like a pond which is stirred up and all the sediment comes to the surface, this is normal The client should try not to be put off or panic thinking counselling has made them feel much worse!  Sometimes it can feel worse before it feels better. The Client should listen to their feelings, and share them with the counsellor -  both the client and counsellor can learn from these insights.

There will be some paperwork to fill out. Some counsellors will have goals and a questionnaire sheet.

The Client will also be required to sign a contract. This will include factors such as confidentiality and privacy.

The counselling contract doesn’t mean that the client has to carry on with counselling, they are free to leave at any time. If the Client starts to feel that perhaps this is the wrong time for them to have counselling, or perhaps they may feel like trying a different counsellor this is their freedom and choice it can be really beneficial for the client to discuss with the counsellor how they feel.

The client could ask questions that are on their mind.

What do they want to know from their counsellor? Is it important for the client to know how the counsellor works? What will they expect from the client? Does the counsellor's idea match up with the client's idea?

So it may be an idea for the client to research a few Counsellors and see what they offer or try some out but at some point, it is a good idea   to commit to at least 6 sessions with one counsellor otherwise it will become a bit like the Tibetan proverb "If you wish to get to a particular farm you hold on to the tail of the cow from that farm and it will eventually lead you there but if you keep changing the tales of different cows from different farms you will end up confused and not get to your final destination." I love this analogy! We know from our own experience when we keep changing it can hinder our learning and besides sometimes if a relationship is difficult or challenging maybe there are some brilliant gems to discover in the counselling relationship such as maybe the counsellor reminds the client of their difficult relationship with their mother or farther? All of this can be fuel for learning bringing it into the counselling session we can really move through our baggage. 

That first counselling session is also for the client to consider their counsellor. Do they like them? They may not be able to answer that straight away but the client should follow their instincts.

Counselling can be a new life-changing journey, but it can also bring up our stuff! Which may feel really unpleasant at times.

It is important for the client to have realistic expectations of this process, particularly for the first session.  Therapy is not a quick fix !-, however, it can be a  great opportunity for the client to understand themselves and can help them heal relationships or let go of unpleasant feelings of anger and anxiety, find more wisdom and clarity, then with time and patience hopefully the discomfort and unpleasant feelings will become fewer and a more contended space can naturally arise.

If you feel counselling could help you then contact

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