What to expect
If you have decided to try counselling, you might be feeling anxious about your first session. Making the decision to get help and address the issues you are facing is an important first step and should be commended. Knowing what to expect from a counselling session should help you feel more prepared and less nervous about your first appointment.
In your first session, it is likely that your counsellor will ask you some questions in order to gain an understanding of what’s worrying you and the way your thought processes work. All of the information obtained here will be used to help you in future sessions.
Some questions your counsellor may ask include:
- Why are you seeking counselling?
– You will most likely be asked what it is that has brought you here. This is your opportunity to discuss exactly why you are there and what you hope to gain from counselling.
- What is your current situation and personal history?
– It is important to let your counsellor know your current situation, this includes any day-to-day issues you are facing and even your work and home life. Discussing your personal history will give your counsellor a chance to understand more about you as a person and why these issues may have occurred.
- What symptoms are you experiencing?
– Whether these are physical or psychological, it is important to discuss any symptoms with your counsellor.
It is advised that you be honest and open when answering these questions in order to get the most out of your counselling sessions.
During your counselling experience, you should aim to build a trusting relationship with your counsellor so that you feel safe and confident discussing your worries. If for any reason you do not feel comfortable talking about your problems with your counsellor it is perfectly acceptable to look for another counsellor.
Your counsellor should establish some clear boundaries when you begin your sessions that cover the following:
⦁ dates and times of the counselling sessions
⦁ confidentiality agreement
⦁ clarification of the professional nature of the counsellor/client relationship
how and when the counsellor can be contacted outside of sessions.
Counselling often requires you to discuss upsetting emotions and painful memories. Bringing up these thoughts can feel difficult to start with and, initially, you may feel worse. This process is necessary to move forward and in time, you should start to feel better.
To get the most from your counselling sessions you should aim to make them consistent. Some sessions will feel more helpful than others, but it is important to realise that everything your counsellor is doing is designed to help you in the long run, even if it doesn’t feel like it in the beginning.
It is also worth remembering that counselling is not a quick fix and that your counsellor will not be able to ‘fi you’ or tell you what to do. The counselling process requires a strong relationship between you and your counsellor and a degree of effort on your part – together these two elements create a successful method to help you resolve your issues.
What the first session brings
When you phone or email, you will be offered a chance to come and meet me face-to-face. The first 30 minutes is FREE and then if you want to carry on, I then go on to do an assessment, which takes about another hour.
The assessment is to get to know the basic facts about you and the wide circle of people around you. During this time I will start to get to know you and about the issues that are preventing you to move forward. All that you tell me is kept in the strictness of confidence. From this session, we can discuss how counselling can help you and we can make a plan to move you forward.
If your plan includes a therapy pet
If your plan involves animal-assisted intervention then you can decide on which animal you prefer for example dog or cat. You will then be introduced to your therapy animal to check you are comfortable with that pet, then therapy can begin.
Evidence of any therapeutic change
I then use an evidence-based assessment ‘CORE’ form, which takes into account your state of well-being, your symptoms, your risks, and your ability to function. (This form is then repeated every eight sessions to review and progress and therapeutic change). The lower the number the more change has been evident.
Sessions are reviewed on sessions 8, 16, 24, 32 to see how you are progressing, evidence of any change gained from using the “CORE’ form. Sessions can go on for as long as needed.