Making the decision to reach out for assistance with managing your mental health is a big step and if you feel worried about attending your first session, that is completely normal. To put your mind at ease, here are some guidelines on what you can expect during your first appointment.
- It’s time for you and your counsellor to get to know each other. Your counsellor may provide you with information about their background, qualifications, and experience. Feel free to ask them any questions you may have about their counselling approach or preferred model of treatment.
- The first appointment may feel a bit like an interview as your counsellor will ask you a series of questions to form a complete understanding of the issues you are currently experiencing. There are no right or wrong answer to these questions, try to be as open and honest in your answers, so the counsellor knows how to help you best. Rest assured that this assessment is carried out in an emphatic, safe and non-judgemental manner and you do not have to share anything you do not feel comfortable to talk about.
- Your counsellor will assist you in clarifying your expectations for counselling, and by the end of the first appointment you may have already established clear goals for therapy. Your counsellor may enquire about your previous experiences of counselling to establish what you have found helpful or not.
- The first appointment generally involves a discussion around how the counselling service works, including issues around confidentiality, session entitlement, timing of sessions and cancellation policies. The purpose of this discussion is to ensure you know exactly what to expect from the service and can make an informed decision about engaging in counselling.
Some helpful tips to remember:
- Whilst you are not required to prepare anything before attending your first appointment, it may be helpful to organise your thoughts by making a list of the issues you’d like to discuss with your counsellor.
- It is important to manage your expectations about counselling. We all wish to quickly resolve the difficulties we experience, but counselling is a part of the bigger picture in helping you with your mental health and is not an instant solution.
Your counsellor will provide you with a safe and supportive environment to explore your inner thoughts and experiences and guide you to develop effective coping strategies, increase your self-awareness, and build the required skills to manage your wellbeing and live a meaningful life.
- There may be situations where clients struggle to develop an effective therapeutic relationship with the counsellor they’ve been assigned to. This could be due to differences in personalities or preferences for a counsellor of a certain age or gender. Should this occur, please feel free to request a referral to a different counsellor that may be better suited to your needs.
- Sometimes things can feel worse before they feel better because attending counselling can be an emotionally draining experience. If possible, allow yourself enough time after the appointment to reflect on your experience and engage in self-care activities.
- Don’t give up if you feel that you are not seeing immediate changes or drastic results. Counselling is a process that will take some ups and downs and that can at times be frustrating or demotivating and that is completely normal, however it’s important to practice self-compassion during these moments. Just showing up for your appointments takes immense courage and dedication, and it is important for you to recognise and celebrate this.
Ability Options counselling services are professional, reliable, and focused on positive outcomes. We offer one on one counselling and psychological services for people over 16 years of age. Call us on 1300 422 454 to find out more.