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What to expect on your first visits

Talking with a Counsellor for the first time can be a daunting experience and many people who have never participated in a counselling session wonder what it will be like. I have designed my clinic to make you feel as comfortable as possible when you first walk in. To make your experience easier, here are some of the things you can expect.

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Don't worry, I know that might be easier said than done, but you really don't have anything to worry about, and don’t feel under any pressure to prepare any information before your session. All you need to do is turn up with an open mind and know that I am here to help you through the process.

 

Come 15 minutes early to complete your paperwork. As with most services there is generally a bit of paperwork for you to fill out. I try to do most electronically prior to the first visit but this is not always possible. I have a comfortable space for you to complete the paperwork and I will be available to give you any assistance you need. 

I will introduce myself to you and ask you some questions including why you're seeking counselling. If you can, make a list of your symptoms, including bothersome thoughts, emotions, behaviors, past experiences and current situations, stressors and triggers and what specific issues you would like to address and what you hope to achieve. You do not have to go into great depth, but knowing the general reason why you are seeking counselling will help you feel ready for going to counselling for the first time. I will also ask if you have attended any counselling or received any treatment before for those issues and what worked and what didn't.

Sessions generally go for 1hr which is broken down into 50 minutes, face-to-face or tele-health, plus 10 minutes for post-session notes. In this first session, as your Counsellor, my aim is to get to know you and together we will set your goals for the type of changes you wish to see in your life. You are the expert in your life and I am there to provide you with guidance and support to be able to achieve your goals. Depending on what you are looking to improve, I may ask questions about your childhood, family or past history.

 

If you don’t feel comfortable answering all these questions in this initial session that’s totally okay, we will work towards that together.

Please keep in mind that honesty is crucial to successful therapy. Counsellors are not there to judge you, but rather help and support you and your honesty is important for a successful therapeutic process. 

I will emphasize confidentiality. All Counsellors are ethically bound to safeguard the information you share with them. Other than a few rare circumstances, such as if I believe you may harm yourself or others, I can’t talk about you to anyone else without your permission. During your very first meeting, I will clearly explain confidentiality and its limits. It is outlined in the service agreement and if you would like more information, you can ask me about it.

Oh and yes, it is absolutely normal to cry during the first session, and subsequent sessions. Crying is a great release for the body and we often cry when we express out feelings - and is not be seen as a weakness. People often feel overwhelmed in counselling and when they feel safe, they can finally let out all those bottled up emotions, they can become more emotional but importantly, leave feeling lighter.  This is a good sign that you we are establishing a therapeutic relationship - which is very important for your ongoing success.

How many visits will I need with a Counsellor?

This is a very common question. 

How many counselling sessions you will need will vary hugely according to the you.  Meaningful life changes and genuine progress don’t occur within one 50-minute session.  I will consult with you about how many sessions I may recommend and we will discuss it, together.

As a rule of thumb, long term behavioural change starts by 4-6 sessions but is enriched (on average) by 8, 10 and beyond as ethically necessary for your full care. Forming a positive relationship with your me (as your Counsellor), feeling ready for change yourself and feeling confident in my skillset will maximise how much you can get out of sessions.

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