For most of us dealing with emotional stress and anxiety, seeking professional help can be intimidating. If you have always wondered what would happen when you meet a counselor or what you should expect in the first meeting, here are some pointers to guide you:
The first time you go to a clinic, you will be asked to fill out a personal questionnaire and a sheet describing the clinic’s counseling policy.
The goal of first appointment will be to find out and discuss your current concerns and personal history. The counselor will ask some questions such as: why you’re coming to the center, what you hope to gain, what is the outcome you expect etc. Your sessions will take place in a quiet room with just two of you present.
Expect the counselor to listen to you and also ask you a number of questions to understand your deeper problems. You may also be guided to make certain lifestyle changes to identify better ways of dealing with stress or anxiety.
You may decide to start treatment at the counseling center or participate in group therapy depending on your initial discussion with the counselor.
Your sessions will take place on the same day and time each week, unless mutually decided otherwise. Sessions mostly will be weekly over a period of time. The clinic’s guidelines, policies will also be discussed and so as confidentiality and session timings.
Things which are acceptable and not acceptable
- You are free to ask your counselor the number of sessions you will be provided and the general guidelines.
- It is expected that you will have a barrage of questions and concerns including confidentiality and you must address those before beginning to open up with your counselor. If you do not have a comfort level, you cannot move further with the counselor
- It is expected that if you can’t make an appointment and want to cancel one you will connect with the clinic at least a day in advance. Counseling sessions are very focused and require commitment from both sides. Counselors give their energy and efforts into each person’s problems and their time is as important as yours.
- There are many people in similar situation as yours and waiting for their timely turn without having to bump into someone else. Therefore, it is important for your to be on time for your sessions and preferable 5 minutes early.
- While it is alright to ask about your counselor’s experience, it is also a good idea to do your homework by checking on their qualifications and background beforehand.
Asking personal questions about the counselor is not the right thing to do. As friendly as you may get with your counselor, it is not a good idea to try to be one of their friends. This is to maintain the sanctity of professional relationship and also maintain objectivity in the sessions.