What happens in a first therapy session?
Updated: Jun 24
Have you ever wondered what the first session with a counsellor is like?
Whether you are new to counselling or have experienced therapy before, walking into a room with a new counsellor can feel difficult and you may be wondering what is going to happen.
It will be slightly different with all therapists, but here is what will happen when you walk through my door.
We are all different, so as you approach the building and ring the doorbell marked “Carina” you may be feeling anxious, scared or nervous about what is to come.
Or maybe you could be feeling excited, keen to get started, hopeful that this will be the turning point for you. Both are completely normal.
I'll have sent you some paperwork in advance, so after getting settled into the room, we'll go through this together. You may have some questions at this stage and I will be very happy to answer them.
Once the paperwork is out of the way, I will start to get to know you a little. I will ask you some questions to try to understand what life is like for you.
There are many ways you can respond
The words just won't come. You don't know where to start or what to say. It might be hard to find the words to explain how you are feeling. Talking about yourself can feel quite difficult at first and it can take time to get used to.
You find it difficult to know where to start. Maybe there are so many thoughts, feelings and emotions that you just do not know where to begin.
Maybe you don't know. You know that there is something not right with your world but you don't know what it is.
You find your story just pours out. The words are just bursting to be let out and they just flow. It might feel like only minutes have gone by when I gently mention that we are coming up to the end and you will be wondering where the time went.
However you tell your story is okay. I will either gently encourage you to talk or be listening intently to what you are saying.
As you begin to tell me what is going on for you, however quickly or slowly, I will be with you every step of the way.
I will not push you to go faster or deeper than you feel comfortable with. You are always in control.
There may be times of quiet contemplation as you explain something that you have never said out loud to anyone before.
Or times of strong emotion such as anger, sadness, frustration, rage, guilt or regret. Emotions which may never have had the opportunity to be fully expressed.
Sometimes I may ask a question to help me understand more. At other times I might check my understanding by clarifying what you have said.
I may notice something; maybe a pattern in your story, similarities in experiences or how your face or body react when you tell me certain things.
As you give voice to your thoughts, feelings and emotions, gradually things will start to become clearer for you, and we can explore these as we progress through our counselling journey.
When the first session is coming to the end, I will let you know. Giving you time to wind down and to get ready to face the world outside.
As you leave and close the door behind you, I hope you have left feeling like there is someone by your side.
I look forward to hearing from you.