Preparing for your first counselling session
If you're reading this post, it is pretty likely that you have either booked your first session with your new counsellor, or you are almost ready to make that first booking.
Either way, you have already come a long way on the journey to getting the help, support and clarity you are seeking. Congratulations!
It may not feel like a time for celebration, but the effort, energy and often bravery it takes to research your options, contact a therapist and then make a booking, is usually overlooked.
Many people take weeks, months and sometimes years to pluck up the courage to get their first session booked. This tells me that it isn't such an easy step to take, but it's one you've managed to complete.
I hope you can feel at least a little proud of yourself.
Should you prepare?
As is the case with most appointments, some people expect that a degree of preparation will be necessary.
Whilst I understand the thinking behind this, and the feeling that "now the session is booked, there must be more I need to do", I don't ask my clients to do anything specific before we meet.
Because every single individual person is unique, so there experience of counselling will be, too.
The single most important part of successful therapy and counselling is the relationship you build with your therapist; there is no way to 'prepare' for getting on well, is there?
Think of this like any other new relationship in your life - you will either 'click' and get along with a new person or you won't, and there isn't much you can do about it!
Although this happens rarely, it's worth saying that if we find that we aren't a good fit, I will support you with finding a more suitable therapist as much or as little as you would like.
If you are feeling nervous about your first session, this is totally normal. You might like to read 'Does everyone feel nervous before their first session' to get some reassurance with these feelings.
What CAN you do?
I do appreciate that it will really help some people to have even just one thing they can do in the time between making their booking and attending their first counselling session.
Another really important part of successful counselling is being able to roughly know what your goals are.
As with goal-setting in any other situation, knowing where we are aiming for helps a lot with planning how we will get there. Also with identifying how we will know when we have reached our destination.
So what you can do, is begin to gently, slowly and gradually think about what you hope to get from the counselling process.
For example, if it is to feel 'more content', how might you know you are feeling that way when you get there?
Would you find yourself no longer searching for a new job or career, or feeling less wrapped up in finding a romantic partner?
These are really helpful questions to begin asking yourself as you embark on the counselling journey.
I'd like to emphasise that this is a gradual process. This may not happen for you overnight and it's very likely that you will come to your first session without knowing exactly what you want to achieve.
We'll be able to explore this together, from whatever point you are starting at; I'll be able to help you with identifying the goals for our work.
You can read more about first-time therapy in these posts: