If you have never been to a therapy session before you might be wondering what to expect. Below I have gathered some of the most frequently asked questions to help put you at ease. If there is anything else you want to ask before coming along to an initial session please don’t hesitate to send me an email or text and I’ll get back to you.
What will happen in the first session?
The first session is a chance to talk about what has brought you to counselling at this time and to see how you feel talking with me. The session will be online or in person and will last around 30-40 minutes. I’ll tell you a bit about how I work and answer any questions or worries you might have about getting started, especially if this is your first time having talking therapy.
I will ask you some questions to help me understand your current situation and make sure I have the relevent expertise to support you. You can share as much or as little as you feel comfortable with.
You may decide from there to book in for some regular sessions or you may want to take some time to think about it. There is no obligation to continue.
How should I prepare for the first session?
There is no need to prepare what you want to say. It’s okay to just turn up and I will help to guide you through the first session.
If you’re nervous about what you want to say you might want to write something down or bring some notes with you however all you really need to do is come as you are. Having had counselling myself during my training, I know what it can be like to come to your first session, you will be in safe hands.
What happens if I don’t know what to say?
If you’re feeling stuck or unsure what to say then that’s okay. It can take time to feel comfortable and to work out where you want to start. I won’t make you sit in silence for too long, although silences can sometimes be useful pauses to give you time to think or reflect on something.
I might invite some creative approaches such as asking you how you feel in your body, maybe showing you a breathing exercise or asking you some questions to help us get into the flow.
How do I know if I really need counselling?
There is no clear cut answer to this question! When we have difficult times in our lives there are usually a variety of things that can help – taking better care of our bodies, getting more sleep, not over-stretching ourselves, being in the company of supportive friends and family or time out alone. Counselling provides an additional method of support.
Whatever you’re struggling with, the simple act of sharing things out loud with another person can help to create clarity and relief. Confidentiality is at the heart of counselling, allowing you to talk more freely than you might with those close to you.
I believe everyone can benefit from talking things through, not only with a trained professional but more importantly with someone who is outside of your family and friends, who isn’t there to judge and who has your best interests at heart.
How many sessions will I need and can I dip in and out?
Decisions around number of sessions are always collaborative and there is no obligation to sign up for a certain number of sessions. Some people come short term (for 4 or 6 sessions) and some people stay for 2 or 3 years. It all depends on your goals, what you feel you need at the time as well as what you can afford. We will talk this through in the first session and review things as we go along.
I believe you will get the most out of counselling by committing to a weekly session and this is how I tend to work with my clients. We will meet on the same day/time each week. There is some flexibility around this of course in certain situations for example financial contraints, shift work or other commitments. You are also very welcome to come for a block of sessions, take a break, and then return at a later date.
Can I get in touch between sessions if I need support?
If you have an emergency situation you should call 999 as I am not able to provide crisis intervention. The Samaritans listening service is also an excellent option for a confidential space to talk to a trained listener, you can call them on 116 123 and talk about anything that’s troubling you.
If you are struggling with something between sessions which you feel can’t wait, then you can request an extra session and I will do my best to accommodate this depending on my availability. We could then look together at ways of coping between sessions, expanding your support network and finding self-care practices that work for you.
What’s the difference between counselling and other talking therapies?
Talking therapy takes many different forms depending on the therapist’s training and interests. Even amongst counsellors there is a great deal of variation in how we work. The terms counselling, therapy or psychotherapy are often used interchangeably to describe the same thing, i.e talking with a trained professional in confidence to help alleviate emotional or psychological distress.
If you’re not sure where to start then I would suggest using a professional directory such as the BACP to look for therapists and spend some time reading their profiles. You can then set up an initial session with one or two to see who you feel most comfortable talking to.
The most important factor in successful counselling is often the relationship between you and your counsellor so it’s important to choose someone you feel you can click with. The BACP (British Association for Counsellors and Psychotherapists) have a page on types of therapy that explains all the various therapies in more depth.