Coming to Counseling the First Time - Part 2

This is part 2 in a series. See part 1 here.

What is is like going into a counseling sessions for the first time?

Meeting your therapist/counselor for the first time…Now, with the business stuff out of the way…what can you expect at your first visit?  First visits can feel a little uncomfortable.  In reality, the first session is kind of like the first day of class.  In school, you meet your instructor, go over the syllabus and see what is expected and what you can expect in the class, and then you get to ask questions. The same goes for your first counseling session. You meet your counselor, go over what you can expect, paperwork, and typically your counselor will tell you about him/herself—so that you can know the person that you will be trusting your personal information.  Your counselor will lead you, so you do not need to feel the pressure of “knowing what to say or not to say”.  Your therapist will ask you questions, so that your purpose for counseling can be established. 

What will your counselor ask? Again, your counselor will take the lead in guiding through the session.  The first session, he/she may tell you to expect this session to feel introductory.  The questions you may be asked include, “why are you coming to counseling” or “have you ever been to counseling before—if so, what did you find helpful/unhelpful”.  Each counselor will ask some variation of these questions, and will ask more—in order to get the best understanding of who you are, as well as where you are, which will help the counselor walk with you to the place you are attempting to reach.  

What can you tell your counselor?  There are few limits to complete confidentiality within your counseling session. Your counselor will go over those with you during your first visit, and you will sign paperwork reflecting this. But, your counselor is a mandated reporter.  This means, he/she must report if ever you disclose or have reasonable cause to believe that child abuse, elder abuse, harm to others or self-harm is evident.  Outside of these, unless you specifically give consent or your counselor’s notes are subpoenaed, everything you discuss in session is private. There is nothing that you cannot tell your counselor that will make them think less of you, judge you, or be too much! Your counselor can act as a sounding board, creating a safe space for you to talk about the concerns you have. 

How long does counseling last?  When we think about the idea of being exposed, or vulnerable, we often wonder “how long will I need to do this?” or “how long until I’m feeling/doing better?”   This is a completely normal question, and asked frequently.  Counseling is a process. In the same way that all snowflakes are completely different, your counseling experience will be completely different.  You may want to consider what your insurance covers as well as how often you would like to have sessions.  You’ll be able to work out with your counselor what will be best for you—which is your counselor’s goal.  At the end of your first session, you counselor will answer your questions, take payment and schedule your next appointment. 

If you have any questions or are ready to schedule an appointment, please visit our website or give our office a call and we would be happy to help you on your path to change.  

Paducah-  www.compasspaducah.com 270-777-4490

Owensboro- www.compassowensboro.com 270-215-4000

About the Author 

Jenny Linville lives in Paducah with her two men—husband and English Bulldog Manly.  Jenny is a beginning counselor, soon to be LPCA, who is seminary trained, and loves to help people through many different life changes, challenges, and hard spots.  She and her husband enjoy cooking and going for walks with Manly.