Deciding that you need to see a licensed professional counselor or a therapist isn’t the easiest thing in the world.
About half of all Americans (47%) think that going to therapy is a “sign of weakness.” Of course, there’s no truth to that statement. That kind of stigma is hard to overcome, yet you’ve made the right decision to seek counseling for your well-being.
With that being said, it’s natural to be a bundle of nerves before your counseling session. To say that talking to someone who’s practically a stranger about your fears, worries, etc., is uncomfortable is an understatement.
Having a general idea of what to expect during therapy may help lessen your apprehension. Here are a few things to know about your first therapy appointment.
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1. Choosing the Right Licensed Professional Counselor
Fit will be the most crucial factor in finding the right therapist. Not everyone can provide what you need to become better at whatever you’re struggling with.
Consider your own preferences and needs. Maybe religion plays a vital role in your life, and you prefer talking with Christian counselors. Or perhaps you would like someone who offers a mindfulness-based approach to therapy.
Do note that not all mental health professionals have the same credentials, specialties, and fees. Always do your research before booking your first appointment.
2. Don’t Expect Counseling Advice at Your First Session
A typical first session is like a first date that’s more of a get-to-know-you than a talk-about-your-deepest-fears session. Don’t expect a breakthrough or professional counseling at the initial visit. It will be more focused on trying to connect with each other on a personal level.
The first visit is for your therapist to know more about you, what you’re struggling with, and why you came to see them. It’s also your chance to become acquainted with your counselor and get an impression of how comfortable you are talking with them.
3. Speak to a Counselor About the Mental Help You Need
Your therapist will ask questions to help them figure out the best therapeutic plan for you. They’ll want to know why you’re seeking therapy. What symptoms are you experiencing, and what are the issues you want to address with the treatment?
Your professional counselor may ask more follow-up questions, such as if there’s a history of family mental health issues. They may also ask about substance abuse or self-harm. Expect to feel uncomfortable at times, but know that it’s all part of the process.
4. Ask About Progress
Finding a solution to your mental problems doesn’t happen over one session. It will take time and a lot of conversations to achieve what you want from therapy.
It’s understandable to be impatient, but you can ask your therapist after every session about your progress. Knowing that you’re getting better little by little can help you stay motivated throughout your treatment period.
Therapy Is About Working Towards Getting Better
Hopefully, this post has helped you know what to expect when going to a licensed professional counselor. Taking the first step is always a challenge, and it may seem that things are looking dark at the beginning. But if you work on your issues with your therapist, it won’t take long to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
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