Many people who have never experienced Counselling therapy wonder what it will be like.
- Will the Counsellor ask you a lot of questions about your feelings?
- Will they ask you to discuss your fears, your past or your relationships?
- Will you have to talk about your childhood?
The truth is that different counsellors handle their first sessions differently. They may even encourage you to ask them questions about their lives, training, or experiences in the first session.
A rough timeline of your first counselling session
You’ll most likely spend the first part of your therapy session getting to know one another. Your relationship with your Counsellor is just like any other—it may work best if you’re able to connect with one another on a personal level. You don’t have to leap into your deepest darkest secrets immediately—feel free to talk through your day or your holiday as a way to get a sense of how the two of you will communicate with one another, it is really important to communicate with each other and build a good rapport.
Your therapist will need to know why you’re seeking therapy. They may ask what kinds of needs or issues you’d like to address in your treatment together as well as what you’ve done to manage your mental health in the past, have you ever had therapy before?
They’ll want to talk through what worked and what didn’t to get an understanding of how best to help you. For example have you tried CBT?
As a secondary part of understanding what you need from therapy, your
therapist may ask some of the following questions:
- Have you attended therapy in the past?
- What are your symptoms, anxiety, grief?
- Do you have any mental health issues in your family history?
- How is your home life?
- Do you have a history of suicidal ideation?
- Do you have a history of self-harm?
- What do you hope to get from therapy?
- What do you want to accomplish in sessions?
Your therapist may also do an anxiety assessment score in session one and session six to help gage the level of anxiety you might have been experiencing. There is no set number of sessions and every person is different and needs a different number.
More Questions: It can also be helpful to plan on asking questions of your counsellor. Before your session, consider thinking over what worries or concerns you may have. The sessions are confidential and are 1-1 and are 45-50 minutes long, confidentiality would only need to be broken if your therapist thought you were a risk to yourself or others. Many therapists also have a client/therapist agreement which would be discussed in the first session, just so that the ground rules for the therapy process are clear to both parties.
What should I do after my first counselling session?
The most important thing to do after your first counselling session is check in with yourself. Ask yourself how you felt your first session went, and see how you would feel about going to another one with this therapist. Remember: there’s no such thing as a one-session cure, so you may feel a little better or relieved, but your symptoms won’t immediately disappear.
Additionally, you may have some “homework” from your therapist before your next session. This could be anything from journaling throughout the week to doing a little reading that may help provide context for your next session. Whatever work you do between sessions is about making you feel healthier and happier, not about getting a good grade.
What to expect from future sessions
Sessions will be very much person centred, focusing on you as the client, listening and encouraging you to bring your own issues to the sessions. The sessions will be very much led by you as the client. A person centred counsellor will help you to explore your own issues, feelings, beliefs, behaviours and world views so you can become more self-aware and achieve greater independence.
About the author
Sarah Thompson is a CBT therapist and counsellor at the Sheffield Wellness Centre. She has an integrative approach to her work and is skilled in using her training and experience to help change negative emotions into a more positive approach. Her goal is to help you build a trustworthy, non- judgemental relationship which will enable you to build on your self esteem, self confidence and eventually will lead you to discover your own abilities and autonomy, so that you can cope with current and future problems.