What happens in a counseling session?
After first meeting the client, what is the process that a counselor facilitates?
You’re nervous, perhaps scared. You have never been to a therapy session before and have no idea what to expect! Whenever we do something for the first time, it helps reduce anxiety and nervousness if we know what to expect and can prepare. Here are some things that generally take place in a first session and typical questions the therapist will ask. These help your therapist get to know you and make an accurate initial assessment of your situation and what would be most helpful to you.
You will be asked to complete paperwork. If you are using insurance be sure to bring that information with you. Often, you can complete paperwork online prior to your session which saves time. (Don’t forget to bring it with you to your session!)
1. What issue(s) brings you to therapy?
2. Your personal background history as it relates to current issues.
3. What physical or other symptoms are you experiencing? How is the issue affecting other areas of your life?
And here are a few other tips to help you get the most out of your first session.
1. Be open and honest about your feelings. Therapists are trained to listen and learn from what you share.
2. Ask questions. There’s no such thing as a dumb question. Asking questions helps you understand more about the process, reduces your anxiety, and helps you become more comfortable. If you don’t understand something, please ask!
3. Be prepared. Think about how to describe “what’s wrong” or why you are seeking therapy. It can help to make a list of reasons why you are seeking help. Practice describing how you feel about the issue.
Most people feel more at ease after their first session and you will continue to build rapport with your therapist over time. It is a big step to begin therapy and I wish everyone healing and growth on your journey!
- 7 views
For me, I want a client to feel like I understand what brings them to seek help from me. So I might explore both their present circumstances, as well as their history, and try to start making some connections between the two, but so that the both of us can understand what is taking place. Not every therapist goes into history in the same way, either. The way the therapist practices will often inform the ways in which they collect and look at data.
However, above all, my goal, especially in the beginning of therapy, is to work on developing a working rapport with any client. Most research states that the quality of the relationship, rather than modality of therapy, indicates success rates. One of the most essential components of rapport is that someone feels heard, attuned to, and understood.
- 117 views
Hi. This is an excellent question ! I think that the answer probably varies depending upon the particular therapist . In my work with people , once we have met and I have gotten an idea of the person'a concerns and the issues they want help with , I spend the next few sessions gathering as much history and as much information about the client's current concerns in order to formulate some ideas about what may be causing distress . I would then share my thoughts with the client to see if they feel I am understanding them and on the right track. We would then discuss the best plan to address the client's concerns . Usually I will suggest strategies that I think may be helpful and ask the client for feedback about whether or not they think my suggestions feel helpful . I always encourage clients to be really honest with me about this. I tell them that I would hate for them to agree to try things that they know they won't try just to avoid "hurting my feelings" or "offending me." I want to be helpful and while I have the expertise as far as typically helpful strategies, I really like to work collaboratively and have clients tell me what they do and don't like / agree with or not agree with when I share my thoughts about a treatment plan . We the work together to come up with a plan that will be helpful , but also realistic and then revise it and try new things if necessary as we go along. If things aren't improving , I am very happy and willing to try something new !
I hope this is helpful for you !
- 143 views
And...our personalities may somewhat guide how we go about getting to know you, identifying what you would like to be different in your life and developing a plan to get where you would like to be. The very most important thing that will determine a successful outcome is the healthy therapeutic relationship between you and your therapist. If you don't feel safe, comfortable and ready to work together, then it is likely not a good fit.
And that's OK...speak up and the therapist should assist you in finding someone you can readily work with.
- 45 views
Each counselor may have a different process, so I'm not the end all authority here. For myself, I review policies and confidentiality concerns with people first and answer any questions they have.
Then I'll let them know I'll be writing a lot in this session and I have an assessment form that I like to get completed, but I want to have a conversation and I'll ask questions as we go. My first question is usually, "How do you feel I can best help you today?" Some people are very at ease and tell me many details. Others are a bit more reserved and I have to demonstrate more curiosity.
Even people who have been very apprehensive are usually feeling very relaxed by the time the session is over. Usually, when we get close to end of session time, I'll summarize what I think are the biggest concerns from what I've heard and confirm whether or not the person wants to work on those things. I also try to give an exercise targetting my biggest concern for them to work on in between sessions. For instance, a relaxation method if they are very anxious.
Counselors are just humans as well, so it does take a bit of time to really get to know another person. I always tell people that are apprehensive to give the counselor 3 or 4 sessions to determine if they really connect with them.
I hope that helps,
- 37 views
After meeting a client, many Counselors will ask you lots of questions in order to complete a thorough assessment of what you came to counseling for. This assessment is required by most insurances and allows the Counselor to give a diagnosis, which is also required by most insurances in order for them to pay the Counselor. If you are paying out of pocket, this diagnosis is not really required for payment, but many Counselors will still perform a comprehensive assessment because we really want to know what the issues are that brought you to us. The better we understand what it is that bothers you, what you would like to get out of the counseling, and all the various things that tend to affect people such as family upbringing and medical issues, the easier it is for us to help you reach those goals. How the counseling actually plays out from there depends a lot on the theory that the Counselor uses to direct their approach to counseling, and that information is too much for this little post.
- 56 views
A good therapist will discuss what brought you to therapy in the first place and devise a therapy plan with you on some of the things that you may want to work on. The plan is not set in stone as things may arise during your therapy sessions. You also agree on how often and when you would like to meet.
- 27 views
Great question which I imagine many other people have as well.
The therapist will want to know your main source of life discomfort. In what areas are the problem interactions which you hope will disappear?
The therapist is trained to listen for your emotions to your story.
And to open these up to you in a kind and safe way so that you'll start to see your circumstance in a new light in which you feel more of your own authority to handle the troubling conditions.
The therapist and you will refine your thinking and theories.
The therapist will ask questions to help you prepare for any stumbling blocks along your way of creating your own new answers to the problem you brought to counseling.
I hope you'll enjoy learning and creating new thinking and interacting patterns!
- 25 views
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