What can I expect in my first session?
Updated: May 24, 2019
Deciding to reach out and take the plunge into counseling can be a big decision. On the one hand making that first appointment can feel exhilarating. You may think, “Now, finally, things will be different — because I’m doing something different, and I’m going to have support.” Many people feel great peace and hope after making their appointment. However doing something new is always a little nerve-wracking. And getting involved with any personal growth work can feel mysterious, and unless you’ve done it before you may not know what to expect.
Here’s what you can expect when you schedule to see me for the first time:
Initial Follow Up
If you schedule a free consultation telephone call and book an appointment, I will follow up with you and send you preliminary paperwork to fill out in advance of our meeting. This can be filled out electronically — no printing and faxing. This way I'll have more time to talk with you and get to know you during our session (as opposed to completing paperwork). After you make your appointment, I will send a reminder to confirm the first appointment.
As a Licensed Professional Counselor, I am required to maintain ethical standards. During your first consultation meeting, we will go over the guidelines and you will learn about your confidentiality, the limits of confidentiality, the boundaries of our relationship, and your rights as a client. I will provide you with detailed information about my training and experience and give you the opportunity to ask questions. I will go over our scheduling and financial policies with you.
Your Hopes & My Recommendations
When the required disclosures are complete I will open the conversation to your present concerns. You can talk about your situation, and your hopes for counseling. I will likely ask you questions to ensure I have a good understanding of your situation.
By the end of your first appointment (about 50 minutes) I will either be able to accept you as a client and describe for you what counseling will look like for you, or I will provide you with direction about how to find a more appropriate provider.
If you decide to move forward you can schedule your next appointment directly with me. We most likely will be meeting weekly (at first) for 50 minute sessions. Your sessions will start with a brief “check in” period, followed by a collaborative discussion about what to focus on in the day’s meeting.
It may be helpful for you to take notes during your session so that you have a reminder of the things we talked about and what you’re working on in between sessions. If we agree that it would be helpful you will be receiving homework assignments to do between every session.
At the start of every session we will discuss your last homework assignment, and your progress. Then we’ll decide what we should work on that will be most helpful in furthering your growth, and we will plan your next assignment. At the end of the session I will check in with you about the most meaningful or helpful (or unhelpful) parts of that day’s conversation so that I can make sure that your sessions together are as valuable to you as possible.
Generally my clients provide me with a credit or debit card number that I will charge after your scheduled sessions. If you use online bookings you can follow the payment links. If you prefer to pay by cash or check, please pay at the beginning of each session.
How it Ends
When you find yourself talking extensively about the positive progress and successful changes that you have made in your life, your time with me will likely come to an end. We will review and celebrate your gains, and your regular sessions will no longer be needed. You can cut back to monthly or quarterly meetings to make sure that you maintain your hard-won gains for the long haul.
Have More Questions About Counseling?
Schedule your free consultation session, and have them answered in person.