Thinking of your first session with your counselor can be overwhelming and scary. But rest assured, it’s not as scary as you think. This blog below will go over some expectations you can have for your first meeting with your new counselor.
To begin, a counseling appointment is very different than a meeting with a doctor. A counseling appointment is a talk therapy session. You and your counselor will be exchanging words and conversation with the intent to review as much information about you as possible and what brings you to counseling. Counselors do not prescribe medication, nor are we able to- so don’t count on us for that. We can, however, diagnose you with a mental health condition like generalized anxiety or post traumatic stress disorder. *If you are looking for medication for psyhological issues, you are seeking a psychiatric appointment.
The first counseling appointment is usually about an hour or a little more and will require you to have completed loads of documents and forms (basic info, DOB, insurance info, address, informed consent, credit card authorization form, etc). This is all standard. Any good counselor will REQUIRE you to complete these before your session.
Based on the forms mentioned earlier, your counselor will spend some time reviewing the informed consent with you. This form details things like fees, how your file is managed, what to expect from counseling, how to get a hold of your counselor, your rights and limits to confidentiality. One of the most important things is that you know all of what you share in counseling is private and confidential—with the exception of a few things, mainly related to safety of yourself and others.
Your counselor will then ask you lots of questions about different things sticking out from your questionnaire or intake. There are times we want to get more information about how you grew up, your family and who is part of your family now. We want to know the things that give you joy and the things that really bother you. And most important, we want to know what brings you into counseling to begin with.
By the end of session, you and your counselor will be working to identify goals, specifically your goal for counseling based on the reason you’re getting counseling. For example, the reason you are seeking counseling might be because of marriage problems and stress. The goal is geared towards what you hope to gain from your experience in counseling. An example of a goal for marriage problems might be to better control your emotions and temperament with your spouse and work on mental stress relieving skills.
Attending counseling is a voluntary decision meaning no one is forcing you to come. Your counselor can make strong clinical recommendations about how often you should be seen or when to come back, but ultimately, it is your choice to continue counseling or not. While others around you may be strongly encouraging you to come to counseling, it is your decision to make. If you’re under the age of 18, you and your guardian are in control of this choice.
Remember your counselor is a person, just like you. Your counselor does not have all of the answers, a magic wand, or a special pill to make all your problems go away. Counseling in most cases is talk therapy-meaning your counselor will talk with you and process with you different things to get a better understanding of your situation. The goal is to change you: how you think, how you act, and how take control of your emotions. The focus will not be on changing your situation as much as it will be on changing you.