Your First Counselling Session
The decision to start counselling is big and takes a lot of bravery. EVERY individual goes through difficult times at one point in their life and struggles with the act of reaching out for help. As a Social Worker, I believe counselling is beneficial for ALL individuals. Unfortunately, I find the service often has a negative label attached to it. I can’t stress enough the importance of having that certain someone to talk things through with whether it’s with a sibling, parent or friend. Sometimes it can be difficult to talk to the ones we love in fear of judgement, shame and guilt. Having a therapist to talk with allows for a safe place to share while helping to identify your strengths, challenges and goals. Asking for help is probably one of the most difficult things we can do as individuals. Seeking out counselling is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength!
Let me tell you what your first session with a therapeutic counselor is like. It is definitely normal to feel overwhelmed or unsure about your first session. You might be talking about things you’ve never said out loud before. Maybe you’re unsure what to expect. Here are some things to know about your first appointment:
1) Your first counseling session is called the intake (or screening). Your therapist will be doing a lot of information-gathering, which can sometimes feel overwhelming. During my intake sessions, I focus not only on what has brought you into my office, but also on the things that are going well for you – supportive family and friends, talents, passions, etc. These things play a big part in your life.
2) Everyone’s favorite thing, paperwork! You will be filling out some forms about your background and personal information. Your therapist can help you with this if you have any trouble. Next your therapist will go over a document called the “informed consent”, which covers what you can expect in counseling – everything from your therapist’s background, specialties, and credentials, to session fees and confidentiality. It is very important to have an understanding of this document, so be sure to ask questions if anything is confusing!
3) The majority of the intake (or first) session will be like an interview. Questions range from childhood experiences all the way up to how you have been feeling most recently. Depending on your situation, you might take some written questionnaires to help your therapist get an even better idea of how best to help you.
4) Toward the end of the session, or even at the start of your second session, you and your therapist will start to come up with a few goals. These are the things you would like to focus on in counselling. Try visualizing how your life will look if counselling is successful. How will you feel? What will have changed?
At Family Service PEI we’re just people experiencing challenges like you. We’re a group of people that are helping other people. Our backgrounds range from social work, counselling, business, accounting, psychology, sociology, education and much more. Our team strives to help individuals succeed in this big thing we call life. If you’re interested in booking an appointment with one of our therapeutic counsellors or just looking for more information about our services, please contact our office to discuss setting up your first appointment. We would love to hear from you!
All the best,
Alex Walsh BA, BSW, RSW
Outreach Education Specialist
Family Service PEI