Thinking of your first session with your counselor can be 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.

How a Counselor is Different than a Doctor

To begin, a counseling appointment is very different than meeting with a doctor. A counseling session is a talk therapy session. You and your counselor will be conversating with the intent to go over as much information about you as possible. You will talk about what brings you to counseling and what you hope to get from it. 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 need a psychiatric appointment.

Counseling Paperwork

The first counseling appointment is about an hour or a little more. You will also have to complete loads of documents and forms (insurance info, informed consent, credit card authorization form, etc). Any good counselor will REQUIRE you to complete these before your session. 

Your counselor will spend some time reviewing the informed consent with you. This form goes through fees, 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.

The Beginning of the Counseling Session 

Your counselor will ask you questions about things sticking out from your intake. Your counselor will get more information about how you grew up, your family and who is part of your family now. We want to know things that give you joy and things that really bother you. Most important, we want to know what brings you into counseling to begin with. Your counselor will talk with you and process different things to get a better understanding of your situation.

The End of the Counseling Session 

By the end of session, you and your counselor will be working to identify goals 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 temper with your spouse and work on stress relieving skills.

Counseling is Your Choice

Going to counseling is a voluntary decision meaning no one can force you to come. Your counselor will make 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 may want you to come to counseling, it is your decision. 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. 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.