Your first counselling session?
Guest Post by Bina Convey (MBACP) for West Wimbledon Physiotherapy Clinic.
If you have never had counselling you may wonder what it will entail. Feeling nervous and sceptical about doing something that is new to us are natural feelings. What I can tell you is that you are not alone in feeling this way and that many people come to therapy feeling very isolated in the difficulties they are going through.
Typically a therapy session will last for 50 minutes and in your first session the therapist will ask you lots of questions about you and your life. This will include the reasons you sought counselling, your current situation and questions around your relationships and family life, past and present.
Family history plays an important role in who you are and your therapist will be trying to understand both the surface problems as well as any deeper issues. In counselling you will also explore the impact or the ‘symptoms’ of your problem and how these may be causing difficulty in your life. For example, the impact on your work and relationships.
Counselling, Working Together
Counselling is a collaboration, so it is best to come with an open mind and be prepared to take an active part in the session. Your therapist is trained in asking questions but is not a mind reader so your role in being as open and honest about how you are feeling is crucial.
Ask questions about the counselling process. The more you understand about how counselling works, the more comfortable you will be. You may wish to ask the counsellor to repeat something or explain further.
It is important to feel comfortable with the therapist and the first session is a time to evaluate how you feel sitting talking to this person. This can feel awkward at first, especially if you are unused to the focus being entirely on you, so allow for this, but bear in mind that you may wish to mull over whether this is the right therapist for you based on how you feel in the first or the first few sessions.
Finally, take a realistic stance on the counselling process. The word ‘process’ is the key. Counselling is not a quick fix but a journey where you form a working alliance with your therapist to explore and work through the issues that are holding you back. It is a relationship that will support you in gaining greater self-awareness and a space set aside for you to focus on finding new coping strategies to help you find wellbeing in your life.
Bina Convey (MBACP) is a qualified integrative-relational counsellor who works for the NHS and in private practice at the West Wimbledon Physiotherapy Clinic.