Going to counseling for the first time can be intimidating. Talking to a stranger about very personal things takes courage, and addressing a problem, no matter how insignificant it may seem, is a big deal. The decision to see a counselor sometimes comes as a result as a significant amount of time and energy. Once you’ve taken care of choosing your counselor and set up your appointment, here are a few things you should keep in mind for your first session.
Nerves are normal
It’s completely normal to have some jitters before your first counseling session. Your first session will consist of icebreaker type questions that could range from general likes and dislikes to your childhood and relationships with your family members. The counselor will generally be trying to get to know you and gain an idea of why you are seeking counseling.
Openness is promoted
The stereotypical image of a counselor sitting behind a desk likely won’t be how your counseling session will be set up. In most cases, the counselor will be sitting on the same side of the desk as you, or arranged in a way where you feel comfortable. This positioning is used to make you feel open and comfortable sharing. It's up to you how much you want to share with your counselor during your first session; however, the more open you are, the faster you'll make progress.
Bring some notes
Spend a little time beforehand preparing what you’d like to share about yourself, and set some goals for what you would like to accomplish while you are in counseling. Make a list of the reasons why you are seeking counseling. These tasks might take a little bit of time, but they will help your therapist understand your struggles and goals.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Throughout your counseling experience, you should be able to confide in your counselor if you feel uncomfortable talking about certain topics. This is a process, so don’t be afraid to ask about the counseling experience or how counseling works in general. The more you understand about the therapy process and a counselor's individual approach, the more comfortable you will feel.
With these few tips in mind, you’ll be able to go into your first session more confident and with realistic expectations. It's important to remember counseling is a journey, and not a quick fix. Time and effort from both you and your counselor will lead towards a happier and healthier you.