What to expect in your First Appointment
One of the trickiest parts of counselling, is making the decision to reach out to a counsellor and make that first appointment. It can take a lot of courage to do it, counselling is a vulnerable experience by its very nature and so making that first appointment is no different. It may come after days, weeks, or perhaps even longer wondering if a counsellor might be able to help you.
I try and make the process as comfortable as possible for you – this is what you can expect when you reach out to me:
When you call, email or message I will respond as promptly as I can to answer any immediate questions you may have, book you in for a first appointment, and follow up our contact with an email. In this email there will be important information about Echidna Counselling, your first appointment, and a basic form for you to complete. I also ask you to make payment for the first session upfront to secure the session.
This form asks some information about you, and asks you to describe briefly significant life events, current concerns and what goals you have for our work together. It gives you an opportunity to start thinking about the end, what would you like to be able to say is different in your life after counselling? I will review these before our first session if you are able to return them, otherwise if you print them and bring them on the day we can discuss them together. This being completed in advance allows us to spend the first sessions building a more detailed understanding of what bought you to counselling, and for us to focus on building our relationship together.
When you arrive on the day of your appointment, it’s important for you to know that my counselling room is on my private property. Which means, there is no waiting room and because of that you need to arrive on time for your appointment. At the time of your appointment if you approach the side wooden gate and ring the doorbell, I will let you in and together we will make our way to the counselling room. In the room you will be invited to sit on the sofa, we will be sitting relatively close together and facing each other.
If we are working together online, you will be able to enter the virtual waiting room prior to your appointment and I will ‘let you in’ at the scheduled time. If we are having our first session via telephone, I will call you at the scheduled time.
Your first session will be different from future visits. The initial session is a period for us to get to know each other and get an idea of how to proceed, including some of the practicalities of confidentiality, payment, and scheduling should we agree to continue working together.
Using the paperwork, you completed prior to the session, I will ask you some questions to build on the information you already provided. I may ask about the significant relationships you’ve outlined, a specific concern you’ve identified. But ultimately, this is an opportunity for me to work to understand what bought you to counselling and explore how we can move forward together.
If you have any questions this is your opportunity to ask those. Please do this session is about agreeing together about ongoing work. We may agree to start on a short-term basis, plan longer term or actually that no further appointments are needed. This may be because you got what you wanted from the first sessions, or because you or I decided there were better alternatives for addressing your concern.
It is so important that you find the right counsellor for you, one size doesn’t fit all. Have a look at my blog post on Finding the right counsellor. It’s possible that you might not be sure at the beginning of the work, and that’s ok too. It’s important that you feel able to discuss how you’re feeling about our potential relationship.
There will be an element of the uncomfortable in this first session, you have worked up the strength and courage to share your story with a stranger and that can come with feelings of anxiety, guilt, embarrassment and a range of other emotions. But hopefully this session will allow you to feel able to start feeling as though you might have a space to talk about some of those more difficult thoughts and feelings.
There is no expectation that you share everything your first session. It’s possible that there are things you do not feel able or want to discuss in this first session, the work will be paced at your speed. Being open and honest and sometimes taking ‘risks’ with sharing are important parts of the work, but in the first appointment you need only share what you want me to know.
Remember counselling is a process that will unfold over time.
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