I’ve been asked this question from prospective clients and I have asked this question myself before. It can be scary to admit that you aren’t able to solve everything on your own which is why it makes sense that you want to know “What will my first counseling session be like?” Even though the counselor you contact is an identified professional, they are still a complete stranger.
If you are curious about what the first counseling session will be like for yourself or for someone else, I hope this information will encourage you to try counseling or recommend it to someone you know.
- Plan to spend 60-90 minutes with a counselor during the first session (intake).
- You’ll fill out forms that ask about your contact information, possible screens to check for symptoms and flag follow-up questions.
- The counselor will discuss your privacy rights, limits to confidentiality, cancellation policies and any other administrative policies.
- You will answer questions about your day-to-day activities, what concerns you have, medical conditions, medications, family relationships & history, your experience with past counseling if applicable.
- The counselor will share their specialties, professional training, and clinical style (short-term or long-term, homework vs. no homework).
- The counselor will make recommendations for treatment options and frequency of sessions that you can either agree or disagree with.
Now underneath all the formal details, you should feel safe to open up without judgment, feel comfortable being in the counselor’s presence and in their office space, and you should leave the first session with a sense of hope that therapy will help you reach your goals. Good counselors will tell you right away if they are not qualified to work with your particular issues and will make recommendations for someone more qualified.
If you feel judged, dislike the counselor’s personality, or realize the counselor doesn’t have the qualifications to work well with you, please find another counselor. There is no point in staying with a counselor if you don’t feel comfortable or trust them enough to open up about difficult topics.
I hope you found this information helpful. Stay tuned for next time as I discuss what you can expect from counseling beyond the first session. Feel free to leave questions or comments below.