Going to therapy can be a life-changing experience, and if you’ve never gone to counseling before, you may not know what to expect. Your first counseling session his about getting to know your counselor and letting your counselor get to know you. It’s a foundational experience. They want to find out who your support system is, what you do for a living, what you’re like as a person, and so on, but in addition to that, if there’s a problem that you’re having in your life that’s impeding on your functioning, now is the time to bring it up. You don’t have to wait for the get-to-know-you session to pass before you express the reason that you decided to pursue counseling.
Bringing up emotional issues in your first session
Even though you’re just getting to know your counselor, it’s okay to talk about things that are impeding on your life and your ability to function. Let’s say you’re there because you’re suffering from chronic depression. Your counselor will likely recognize your symptoms; you might seem lethargic, or you might appear as though you’re not expressing affect or mood. Your counselor might notice this even if you don’t bring it up, so why not talk about how your depression is affecting your life so that your counselor can help you process that and work through these issues? They can also help you develop coping skills, but that is a process rather than something that can be completed during your first session. It’s something that takes time. Don’t be afraid to talk about something emergent or that’s making it difficult for you to function because that is how they’ll start to understand how they can help you the most.
Ask questions about your counselor
Your first session is not only a time for you to tell them about yourself but also a time for you to find out information about your counselor. What’s their background? Where did they go to school? What are their interests in terms of psychology or helping people? You can talk about your fears about developing a relationship with a therapist if you have any. Finding out about who the person is that you’re talking to is a good thing because you’ll feel more comfortable and you’ll be able to open up to them in a raw and real way, which is what will help you make the best of counseling. Your counselor should be willing to answer questions, and if they’re not willing to answer questions about their background (as long as they’re not too personal), you might want to reconsider who you’re seeing. The point of going into therapy and counseling is that you want to help people, and they should be comfortable letting you know about them and their credentials, at least to an extent.
Online counseling or private practice
You might be choosing to see somebody in an online therapy relationship, and if that’s the case, the first session is going to be the same; you’re learning about who your counselor is, and even if you’re communicating with them via text, you can still find out a lot of information about your counselor. The same goes for if you’re in a video session. Either way, it’s an excellent opportunity to find out who this person is and how they’re going to help you. Counseling can be a life-changing experience, and to get the most out of it, be honest about who you are and what you’re coping with to your therapist. Making emotional changes isn’t easy, but it’s worth it to see your quality of life improve.
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