Is not knowing exactly what happens in your first counselling session causing some anxiety? Is fear keeping you from making an appointment because of uncertainty?
I’m here to assure you that although the first session can cause some rattled nerves there is nothing to be afraid of. Fear of the unknown is valid and experienced by many people.
Before a client has a first counselling session at Constellations Counselling in Vancouver BC, they have a complimentary consultation with a Registered Clinical Counsellor. This consultation is required and it is your opportunity to ask questions and generally see if the counsellor is a good therapeutic match for you. You can read more about the complimentary consultation in a previous post.
Even though clients have a complimentary consultation first, there is still some nervousness about the first official session which is common. We take your sense of safety seriously so there are a few things we do before we jump into the session. If you visit us in person, we will orient you to the office space and offer you water or tea. If you are still feeling nervous, we offer a grounding exercise to help you settle in if you are open to it. We can do this grounding exercise with online clients as well. Once you feel settled in we begin the session.
The first session with clients is an intake session. During this session, the counsellor will ask you a series of questions in order to start getting to know you. It’s basically an interview where we clarify goals for counselling, we ask about strengths, current coping skills, concerning symptoms, relevant family mental health history, and ask other questions that will help your counsellor build an individualized therapeutic plan for you. This process typically takes the entire first session to complete and can often be a part of the second session if not completed in the first.
If we complete the intake in the first session, then we typically focus on creating safety in the second session. How this will look will vary for each client and sometimes safety will be the primary focus for awhile especially if there is a significant amount of trauma. As a client, it’s important to feel comfortable and safe with your counsellor. A strong therapeutic relationship is essential to successful therapy outcomes. If you do not feel safe with your counsellor, then the therapy process will not work. After safety is established, we move into the main areas of concern the client wants to work on.
One way we practice safety with our clients is by being transparent about the counselling process. You will be informed about next steps in your counselling process and at any point if you ever have any questions we will answer them respectfully and honestly.
Throughout the counselling process, we welcome your feedback, concerns, and questions. We always want to know what is working and what is not. We build on what works and we shift when things are not working. Your counsellor aligns with you so you will be able to meet your therapeutic goals/intentions.
And after reading this, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us.
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Note: This post has been updated from a previous post from 2018.